After securing a goalless draw away to Rayon Sports in the first leg of their Caf Confederation Cup quarter-final, Enyimba appear well placed to get the job done this Sunday and seal the victory that would put them through to the semi-finals.
After all, they claimed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Dynamite Force FC in the round of 32 of the Federation Cup in Nnewi in midweek to remind observers what a strong prospect they are at home.
That’s much easier said than done, and even though the People’s Elephant should have the advantage playing on their refurbished turf in Aba, antecedents in the Confderation Cup this year show that Rayon are still very much in the game, and their threat is what should make Usman Abdallah’s men worried rather than confident.
An amazing fact is that Enyimba have kept clean sheets in all their home games during the group phase, and with the impressive Theophilus Afelokhai between the sticks – who has gone 270 minutes without conceding – it should be another solid defensive performance from the two-time Caf Champions League winners.
One thing clear here is that Enyimba need goals in order to kill this game off.
Worryingly, their frontline has not been the most clinical despite the available quality. It is rather baffling that with the likes of Mfon Udoh, Joseph Osadiaye, Sunday Adetunji, Ibrahim Mustapha and Stephen Chukwude, the seven-time Nigerian champions were only able to net five goals in the group stage.
One goalkeeper I admire in World Football: Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba) — Emeka Nwani (@mekus102) September 20, 2018
This was due to wastefulness in front of goal, something that haunted them in Kigali when they surely should have nabbed an away goal.
It is not to say that Rayon Sports were much more lethal in the group stage, scoring only six, but the fact that half of these goals came away from home is testament to the threat they pose away from home.
Indeed, with no away goal from the first leg, the return match is very open, and Enyimba can’t feel comfortable at all if they are, for instance, just one goal up.
Robertinho’s men will definitely pile on the pressure if required, as they'll know that they'd progress with any kind of score draw.
Enyimba must look towards playing a complete and balanced game on Sunday, where they'll need defensive stability and, arguably most importantly, their star forward line to fire them past the Rwandans.
Failure to do this could see their journey in Africa’s second-tier club competition come to an end, and Nigeria’s quest for its long lost continental glory will continue.