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CAF Champions League: Enyimba on the march again

Posted by By CHIMAOBI UCHENDU on 2008/05/13 | Views: 1149 |

CAF Champions League: Enyimba on the march again

Continental football is at its crescendo again as eight teams set for battle in the group stage of the CAF Champions League.

Continental football is at its crescendo again as eight teams set for battle in the group stage of the CAF Champions League.

Enyimba International of Aba, two-time winners of the competition, are in the race for the trophy, which they won back-to-back in 2004 and 2005. They qualified for this stage in grand style at the weekend despite losing 1–2 in Tunisia to Club Africain.

Enyimba had remained unbeaten before the Tunisian misadventure, but they maintained their pride with a 6–3 goal aggregate.

The Globacom Premier League defending champions had from the beginning of this campaign season, made clear their desire to reclaim the trophy they lost during the 2005/06 season due to hard luck.

This season, the People’s Elephant began their quest for the continental glory on a bright note, leaving continental football watchers in no doubt on their determination to crush every opposition and reclaim the trophy that had eluded them for two seasons running.

By this qualification, Enyimba have entered the record books as a consistent club that really deserve some respect in the annals of African club football. From the club management to the players, the Aba side had exhibited cohesion and understanding both in good and bad times, a treat that is worthy of emulation by other clubs in the country who are aspiring to win the continental trophy for Nigeria.
According to Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu, Chairman of Enyimba FC, the coast was clear for another triumph with the exit of big names that had won the Cup in the past. He was of the opinion that with the exit of Etoile du Sahel, the defending champions of the competition, Enyimba are now hot favourites to win the trophy for a record three times.

He, however, ruled out complacency and underrating of any team that would be group alongside Enyimba when the draw for the last eight would be done in Yaounde on May 15.
"We are now in the driver’s seat," Anyansi began. "We have demonstrated to followers of African football that we are not just seasonal winners, and I think we really deserve some respect."
He continued: "We will be going into the group stages without fear of any team, because we have paid our dues as former champions. With the exit of the defending champions, Etoile du Sahel, I think it would be an easy ride for us to the final, though we are not underrating any team.

"We have perfected plans to move into a close camp for the group stage of the Champions League once the local season is over. Our decision to move the team to a neutral place is to make sure we get maximum concentration that will enable us to face any opposition."

Meanwhile Anyansi thanked Nigerians for their support to the team and promised that they would not disappoint the nation at this stage of the competition.
"This is our fifth consecutive qualification to the group stages of the CAF Champions League since 2003, and we have won the trophy twice.

"I want to hail the sporting spirit of Club Africain. They conducted themselves in a civilized manner both on and off the pitch, they even accepted their exit from the competition in good fate. In fact, Enyimba have not had it so good in recent times in our away matches on the continent since the season started.

"Yes, we rejected the hotel they arranged for us, but I must tell you that aside that, I was elated by their general conduct. They are true professionals. They exhibited the kind of sporting spirit we need to improve football in Africa. The Tunisian Police were cooperative too. They only asked us to wait for a while in the dressing room to make sure the fans had left the stadium before the escorted us back to our hotel. That was unlike what we experienced in our two last away games in the competition," the club boss said.

Similarly, former coach of Enyimba and current Super Eagles’ Coach, Daniel Amokachi, had backed Enyimba to triumph over any opponent at the money-spinning stage of the CAF Champions League. Amokachi said that Enyimba, as a formidable side, would give their opponents sleepless nights in the competition.

The former Super Eagles’ attacker maintained that the People’s Elephant had all it takes to become African champions again.

"Enyimba’s qualification for the group stage of the CAF Champions League is a testimony of their strength, doggedness and togetherness. When I was with them, Maurice Cooreman and I built a formidable side that can beat any team, and that is the result everybody is witnessing today.
"However, I must tell the players, their management and coaches not to be carried away by the qualification.

They must realise that there are still many hurdles to scale before the trophy could be lifted. Their fans will not take any excuse for failure at this stage. They would have preferred it if Enyimba had crashed out during the preliminary stage rather than crashing out now.
"In fact, Enyimba must be ready for the drumming support and cheers to victory that will come from their fans as they march on to glory once again," Amokachi added.

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