Posted by By Tony Ubani & Patrick Omorodion on
Nigeria’S Enyimba did not look like championship contenders when they played Orlando Pirates in Aba yesterday.....
Nigeria’S Enyimba did not look like championship contenders when they played Orlando Pirates in Aba yesterday.
Pirates had two Nigerians, Onyekachi Nwosu on their line-up and Willy Opara, ex international on the bench as one of the trainers. They, also, were a pitiful sight but they were good enough to expose the flaws in Enyimba who, to a large extent, looked awful and had to struggle to avoid a home defeat. They couldn’t knit up to four passes and the game looked more amateurish than many expected.
Enyimba failed to enforce their dominance and rallied to earn a 1-1 draw in their African Champions League Group B match yesterday. Chidozie Johnson equalised in the 66th minute to spare Enyimba the embarrassment of defeat in a match in which they totally dominated but were unable to create any real scoring opportunities.
Pirates, who rarely ventured near their Nigerian hosts’ penalty area, took a surprise lead with a goal from Lucky Lekgwathi in the 33rd minute.
The fullback rifled home a long-range free kick to put Pirates into the lead at half-time.
Enyimba were denied the first goal in the seventh minute when Emeka Akueme hit the crossbar as Pirates showed the first glimpses of the rickety defence that would have them on the back foot for the rest of the game.
It was their failure to clear from a set piece that allowed Johnson to score the equaliser with a half volley from the edge of the penalty area.
Pirates goalkeeper Francis Chansa made an instinctive save just four minutes later to stop an Akueme header from less than a metre out.
Enyimba, who won the Champions League title in 2003 and 2004, were favourites to win a second successive match in the group but the draw kept them within striking distance of the other three sides in the group. It was a second successive draw for Pirates in group B.
Heartland of Owerri, representing Nigeria in the CAF Cup competition crashed out of the event. After losing 5-0 to Renacimento in the first leg in Equatorial Guinea, only a miracle appeared good enough to see them through. Miracles don’t happen everyday and their 4-0 victory in Calabar (which was commendable) yesterday could not cancel their earlier humiliation.
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