At the beginning of this year’s Confederation of African Football (CAF), Enyimba were confident they could go all the way and win the title. They have done well so far to reach the semi-final beating the Rwandan team Rayon Sports 5:1 on aggregate. Their opponent, the Moroccan side, Raja Casablanca, beat Cara Brazzaville to book their place in the final four teams. While Raja Casablanca have lifted the Cup before as winners in 2003, Enyimba are still to get to the final game.
The first leg of the semi-final was scheduled for Wednesday, the 3rd October. The venue was Enyimba International Stadium in Aba, Nigeria. First half was mainly uneventful as Enyimba failed to use the home advantage to attack the visitors. Instead, they had to pull off a great defensive effort to stop Raja Casablanca from scoring. The score at the break was 0:0.
Three minutes have passed in the second half and the Moroccans were ahead. Abdelilah Hafidi managed to fire his shot past the Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai and just like that Raja had their away goal. Afelokhai is going to be really disappointed in the manner in which the ball went past him.
The hosts went into an offensive and were awarded a penalty fifteen minutes later when the Raja Casablanca defender, Al Warfalli appeared to have handled the ball inside the box. This was a great chance for Enyimba to level the game and maybe even go for a win. However, Stanley Dimgba managed to miss the penalty kick putting the ball wide of the mark. Two-time CAF Champions League winners, Enyimba, kept on attacking carried by the crowd at the packed stadium in Aba, but didn’t manage to get any worthwhile chances. In the end, they lost the match even giving 53% of the possession to the visitors from Morocco.
While Raja Casablanca will be overjoyed to win the first leg and carry this advantage home to Morocco, Enyimba will be disappointed they put themselves in this position, having to beat Raja away and score at least two goals, if they are to go into the finals of the CAF Confederations Cup for the first time. The second leg of this semi-final is scheduled three weeks from now, on October 24th, at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca. Coach Usman Abdullah and his squad need to regroup and work on a way to come back and reach the CAF Confederations Cup final.