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Enyimba walk tight rope, lose 0-3 to Al Merreikh in Sudan

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• Rivers United restore Nigeria’s pride, beat South Africa’s Celtic 2-0

Enyimba of Aba got a rude awakening in Omdurman, Sudan, where Al Merreikh hit them three times to jeorpadise their chances of making it to the group stage of the CAF Champions League.

Although there is still the second leg to be played in Aba, what promised to be a good season in Africa’s elite club competition has now become a difficult task for the 2003, 2004 Champions League winners.

To make the group stage, Enyimba must win by at least 4-0. Anything else will see them dropping into the less glamorous Confederation Cup.

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There was nothing in yesterday’s game that indicated that the Peoples Elephant would lose with such high margin. Enyimba went into the game brimming with confidence. But they did not reckon with the dangerous Saif Terry, who did everything Enyimba defenders didn’t like, putting three goals behind the Nigerians’ goalkeeper, Bassa Djeri.

The game was only seven minutes old when Terry controlled a long pass, beat tow of his markers before firing past Djeri. Thereafter, Enyimba seemed to wake up as they dominated possession, but poor coordination in the final third was their undoing.

When it seemed that enyimba was getting their grooves in the game, Al Merreikh hit them again with Terry the chief damager, as he finished a counter attack initiated by Bakri Al-Madina.

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In the second half, Enyimba made some changes with a view to changing the course of the game. Abiodun Adebayo came in for Nabil Yaro and Tosin Omoyele replaced Samson Obi, but the Al Merreikh defence and goalkeeper Munjid Al-Neel stood their ground. Rather, the Sudanese added the third goal in the 90th and Terry’s hatrick to make the second leg a tough task for the Nigerians.

While Enyimba were suffering in the hands of Al Merreikh in Omdurman, Nigeria’s lone representative in the Confederation Cup, Rivers United went, saw and conquered in South Africa, where they beat Bloemfontein Celtic 2-0.

The Port Harcourt outfit had to overcome the absence of three players, whose identities were not revealed, who tested positive for Coronavirus before this match.

Godwin Aguda opened scoring for Rivers United midway into the second half for his second goal of this competition, before Fortune Omoniwari doubled their advantage soon after.

The return leg match will be in a fortnight with the overall winners advancing to the final playoff stage of the competition.

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Al MerreikhEnyimba
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