The People’s Elephants secured a narrow victory over the Pride of Rivers but their manager admits it was not an easy triumph for his side
Enyimba International FC head coach Fatai Osho is pleased with his charges’ impressive outing in their CAF Confederations Cup clash against Rivers United at the weekend.
But the veteran tactician has also hailed United for presenting a formidable challenge for his men, noting that both clubs’ display at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba provided good optics for the local league.
Rivers United, buoyed by the Rivers state government’s promise of a N20 million bonus, arrived in Aba fired up to shock their hosts.
And having secured a hugely-impressive victory away to South African side Bloemfontein Celtics in the previous round, the Stanley Eguma-led team targeted another win at the home ground of the two-time African champions.
But a 59th-minute lone strike by Cyril Olisema made the difference as ten-man Enyimba FC gained a slim advantage over Rivers United in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup playoff match.
Enyimba were reduced to 10 men in the 75th minute when striker Tosin Omoyele was sent off, but it didn’t take any shine away from the clash between two of Nigeria’s arguably best teams of the moment.
“It’s not really a bad result bearing in mind the standard of this Rivers United team,” Osho told Enyimba’s official website.
“They have a formidable team and I believe strongly that after this two-legged affair both teams will gain a lot from this playing in the NPFL.
“We knew they would be coming for a war like that and they have what it takes to fight anybody, and we’re not disappointed with what they exhibited.
“We knew we had to work so hard coming up against them and the players realised it. You can see what turned out on that pitch. This is really really good for the NPFL, to promote the NPFL. This is top class performance.”
The reverse fixture in Port Harcourt next week promises to be a winner takes all. The overall winner of this matchup will advance to the money-spinning stage of the Confederation Cup.