Paul Aigbogun’s men find themselves in a precarious situation as they hope to seal a last-minute ticket to the 2016 CAF Champions League semi-finals. With zero points, the People’s Elephant are definitely walking on a tight rope.
They now seek to get maximum points against Zamalek of Egypt and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa. Or at least 4 points from both encounters with a good goal difference. But it’s important to note that Enyimba lost their two opening matches, to this same sides.
Enyimba are currently on a -2 goal difference in their group, having conceded 2 goals away to Sundowns and 1 at home to Zamalek in their first home game at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt. This leaves Enyimba in a difficult situation. Now, they can’t afford to concede goals, especially if they want to qualify for the semi finals.
Furthermore, Enyimba’s consistent inconsistency in the Nigerian Professional Football League is also a cause to worry about. They are currently placed 6th on the log with 42 points (with 2 games in hand against Ifeanyi Ubah and rock bottom side Ikorodu United aka Oga Boys). Their last win came against Kano Pillars in the Week 26 fixture.
The inconsistency of the People’s Elephant also has something to do with the lack of a permanent home ground this season. Three stadia have been home to Enyimba this season; the. “potatoes plantation” pitch in Umuahia (home ground to Kennedy Boboye’s Abia warriors), the Yakubu Gowon stadium, formerly known as the Liberation Stadium (home ground to Rivers united) and the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium stadium in Port Harcourt which they use for their CAF Champions League engagement.
This major factor according to some enthusiast has not given room to the team’s geling, bonding and the mastering of tactics. In this part of the world, home ground advantage is key to home teams as they know specific areas where they can wreck havoc to the opposing team or opponents. But Enyimba, in this context, don’t have a fortress.
Lack of adequate home support and the absence fans at games has also, to some extent, led to poor results from the team in recent times. Motivation is also lacking. And according to reports, the players have not been paid for about 3 months.
Professionalism and Patriotism are two major strands in the life of every athelete. But most times, both can’t be nourished at the same level. Most times, one has to suffer in place of the other.
The recent partnership between the LMC (League Management Company) and the La Liga has put some players, especially from Enyimba, in a dilemma. The NPFL All Star team travel to Spain to take part in the La Liga World Challenge 6 players of Eyimba (Osadieye, Afelokai, Ifeanyi Matthew, Chima Akas) among others are in the 18-man squad.
Now, according to sources, the players were more interested in travelling to Spain to sell themselves, rather than playing in the CAF Champions League (I’m wondering how true this is. I hope my Enyimba friend can shed more light on this for me). Are the players giving up? Questions begging for answers.
Enyimba take on Zamalek of Egypt in a must-win game in Egypt on the 14th of August and the absence of 6 major players, seems to spell D.E.F.E.A.T I.N A.D.V.A.N.C.E. The arrival of these players, barely 24 hours before the match, will not help their cause.
The usual fire brigade approach is obviously the only panacea in the wilderness of delusion in which Enyimba have found themselves in. Enyimba will love to contend with the vehement and vociferous Egyptian fans and some hostile conditions which their opponent will bring to the table. Enyimba must be prepared for all the antics that will be on display that day.
The People’s Elephant must win or at least get a draw; a barren draw preferably. And even though they choose to win, they must win before the game starts (psychologically before getting onto the pitch). Well it remain to be seen how this will turn out. Perhaps, the resignation of Zamalek’s coach (Mohammed Helmi) might just be a morale booster?
Having said this, it will be more easier and convenient for a Carmel to pass through the needle’s eye than Enyimba getting a positive result in Egypt.
Ayomide Matthew Oluwapamilerin is a freelance but passionate sport writer, analyst and broadcaster who major in Basketball, Football and Tennis. A 400l of Obafemi Awolowo University. You can follow his updates @Mrmatthew_Esq on Twitter
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.