By JOHN EGBOKHAN
Nigeria’s lone campaigner in the CAF Champions League, Enyimba know that tomorrow’s return leg first round match against AS Real Bamako in Mali in the icebreaker for the two-time winners of the most coveted club competition on the continent. Enyimba are on the brink of a shock elimination from the competition, no thanks to their 2-1 defeat at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba last Sunday.
To advance into the next round, they must defeat their Malian foes with a scoreline that is more than 2-1. That seems a tough task given the dynamics of African football, vis-a-vis the home advantage, which AS Real Bamako will seek to exploit in the front of their home fans at the 35,000 capacity Stade Modibo Keïta.
The six-time Malian champions are now in pole position to advance to the second round of the competition but their coach, Nouhome Diane Diane has said that his troops will be keeping their feet firmly on the ground in the return leg.
“We will approach the second leg against Enyimba)exactly the same way we approached the first leg – with total seriousness. This is not over yet and anyone who thinks the second leg will be a formality is making a mistake. We must strive to finish off the job in the return leg,” he said.
For Coach Zakary Baraje, tomorrow’s match is a do or die affair for Enyimba.
“If our dream of qualifying is to be attained, we must defeat AS Real Bamako on their soil. Since they came here to beat us, I don’t see why we can’t go to their house and do the same to them. I have told the players that must be ready for play the game with their life”, said the former El Kanmi Warriors coach.
Also speaking, striker Abdulrahman Bashi said “we will just have to brace up for the second leg.” Mfin Another striker, Udoh Udoh said “we have no choice than to work harder for the second leg and prepare for war on the pitch over there in Mali. I believe if they could win here, we can equally do the same in Bamako.”