Ahead of a second leg tie with Al-Merreikh FC of Sudan in Aba today, Abia Online takes a look at what hope Enyimba still retains despite falling 3-0 away to the Sudanese side in the first leg:
After a humbling first leg at the Al-Merreikh stadium, it may appear that Enyimba’s dreams of winning the CAF champions league this season are over. They were put to the sword by Al-Merreikh in the first round, first leg, the Sudanese side taking a 3-0 lead in the tie. Yet the scoreline really didn’t reflect the story of the game and though Enyimba can now be found as outsiders to qualify for the CAF Champions league group stage, surely some hope remain?
One source of optimism is the way Fatai Osho’s side took on Al-Merreikh without a tracking of fear or trepidation in the away tie. They were in contention throughout counter-attacking with confidence and creating chances. The stats certainly did not indicate such a one sided scoreline and only emphasize the brilliance of hat-trick hero Saif Terry in taking the game away from them.
In fact, Enyimba should have scored at least once. It’s pretty much inconceivable that Enyimba won’t score in Aba if they create a similar number of quantity openings.
Their tactics and approach were actually spot-on and ultimately only their finishing and defending let them down. The question is whether they can score early and create an attacking storm on Wednesday, claw their way back into contention. Though trying to come back from a three-goal deficit against Al-Merreikh in CAF champions league tie seems impossible, there is a very recent precedent to draw strength from.
In the 2018/19 season, nobody gave Horoya much of a prayer after they lost 3-0 in their first leg to Al-Nasr Benghazi. But a 6-2 win in Conakry completed a sensational turn around. The other came in the 2016/17 season when Al-Merreikh lost 3-0 to Rivers United in Portharcourt only to bow 4-0 in Sudanese.
And, of course, there is one precedent of a team prevailing from three goals down in CAF champions league first round tie. That was achieved by Sunshine stars, who lost 4-1 to C R.D Libolo in the 2011/12 first round, only to win the return leg 3-0 courtesy of an astonishing brilliant show.
So while the odds are stacked against Enyimba, it isn’t as though such miracles haven’t been performed before.
Kick off at the Enyimba international stadium is 3:30pm today.