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CAF Champions League: We’ll shock Enyimba –Ajax coach

Posted by Nurudeen Obalola on 2005/06/25 | Views: 342 |

CAF Champions League: We’ll shock Enyimba –Ajax coach

South African first-timers, Ajax Cape Town, are supposedly the weakest team in group A of the Champions League, but the Urban Warriors are talking a big game.

South African first-timers, Ajax Cape Town, are supposedly the weakest team in group A of the Champions League, but the Urban Warriors are talking a big game.

Any side drawn against the back-to-back champions, Enyimba, should expect a tough time no matter the venue but the coach of the South African affiliates of the famous Ajax of Amsterdam is confident his wards can shock the Nigerians.

Ajax qualified for the lucrative group stages after a tense penalty shootout victory over Guinea’s Fello Star Labe in the third round and coach Gordon Igesund believes the experience will toughen his team for the big challenge of hosting Enyimba.

Igesund, who is regarded as South Africa’s most successful coach after winning three league titles with Manning Rangers, Orlando Pirates and Santos, believes Ajax are not just in the Champions League to make up the numbers.

“We really had our backs up against the wall, but the guys rolled up their sleeves and some of the youngsters really became men,” he said.

Igesund pointed out that the Urban Warriors now find themselves in very illustrious company as they face up to clubs rich in African Champion’s League history, starting with the current champions.

“We really had to battle in the earlier rounds,” said the three time Castle Premiership winning coach.

“We are really playing amongst the giants of African football. All of the other clubs have won the Champion’s League at some stage in their history,” said the Ajax mentor on the club’s website.

“These clubs boast massive support and they have the financial muscle to ensure that their top players stay at the club and do not move to Europe”.

He continued, “I am sure that Enyimba hoped to be drawn against us as they expect us to be the whipping boys of the group, but we are going to go out there and surprise a few people.”

Ajax, who got into the Champions League after finishing second in the league behind Kaizer Chiefs in the 2003/2004 season, were sixth in the just-concluded South African Premier League season.

As part of measures to attract more support for the Enyimba game, gate fees to the Athlone Stadium have been slashed to five rands for youths under 16 years of age, while seats in the grand stand will attract 20 rands.

Ajax keeper, Moneb Josephs, said, “It’s a big, big game for us. It’s definitely the biggest game in the history of the club. It’s what we have been working towards for the entire season.”

Igesund and his wards will do well to watch it though as Enyimba are not only going to Cape Town as leaders of the Nigerian Premier League, the champions have not been beaten in this year’s competition, home and away, and they have the best away result with the 6-0 demolition of Red Arrows in the last round.

In the other match of the group, also billed for Sunday, North African giants, Al Ahly of Egypt and Raja Casablanca of Morocco, face each other.

The hosts, Al Ahly, were champions in 1982, 1987 and 2001, while Raja won in 1989 and 1997. Ahly are the form team of the group after the Egyptians went through their domestic season undeafeted in 26 matches and notched up an amazing 74 points, 31 more than second-placed ENPPI.

Raja finished second in the Moroccan league behind FAR Rabat.

Saturday Punch, June 25, 2005

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.