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Enyimba, Akwa United ready to exhale

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PHOTO: Sitippe Ke Akwa Ibom

• Al Hilal’s Shobowale sure of success in Uyo
Two of Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Confederation Cup, Enyimba of Aba and Akwa United will go into today’s final leg of the preliminary round with the knowledge that they hold the key to their participation in the group stage of the competition.

Enyimba will face Bidvest Wits of South Africa in Calabar, while Akwa United will entertain Sudan’s Al Hilal in Uyo.

In the first leg of the ties last week, Enyimba held Bidvest Wits to a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg, while Akwa United lost 0-2 to Al HIlal in Omdurman. And so, Enyimba needs only a goalless draw to advance to the group stage, while Akwa United must win by at least three goals without conceding any to make it.

Enyimba’s Austin Oladapo, a midfielder, is sure his club will do the needful against the South Africans.
The silky playmaker, who has been one of the standout performers for the People’s Elephant this season, was bullish in a chat with Enyimba Media in the build-up to the CAF Confederation Cup play-off return leg.

“I am very confident… seeing the training all week, it has been impressive, so I am very confident that we are going to scale through,” he said.

Allied to the thorough preparation the side has undergone, Oladapo also believed that a difficult first leg, which saw the Clever Boys see more of the ball for long periods, has better prepared the team to respond in Calabar.

“Now, we feel more motivated. We already know how they play; we saw it in their home, and [yet] we were able to get an away draw there. So, we already know their tactics.”

Also sure of success today is Akwa United Chairman, Elder Paul Bassey, who believes the support from Akwa Ibom State government has given the team the fillip to overcome the Sudanese.

The state government has thrown the gates open for fans to come and cheer Akwa United to victory. “Wednesday is midweek, a lot of fans will either be in their offices, marketplaces and other business concerns that may punctuate their desire to come and cheer us to victory, but with this magnanimity from the  governor, we expect a near capacity crowd especially from schoolchildren who are on holiday.”

“Governor Udom has been very supportive financially and morally and the only way we can repay his interest in the team is to keep a smile on his face with a victory on Wednesday.”

However, while Elder Bassey is looking forward to success, former Kano Pillars’ star, Azeez Shobowale, who now plays for Al Hilal, believes the tie is beyond the Uyo side.

“We are in Uyo to qualify for the next stage of the Confederation Cup,” Shobowale told CAFOnline.com.

“Akwa United may carry the day but we will qualify and I am confident about this because we are coming to fight our way through. I don’t believe in home advantage since it’s going to be 11 players of Hilal against 11 players of Akwa United. The fans will not be on the pitch to play for Akwa United,” stated Shobowale.


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