By John Egbokhan
Enyimba yesterday started their 2016 CAF Champions League campaign on a bad note, losing 1-0 to Ugandan champions, Vipers SC in a preliminary round first leg match at the Nakivubo stadium. The clash had far wider-reaching ramifications than just the matter of playing for the first time in this prestigious continental competition for the Ugandan side, who are bidding to go further than where other Ugandan teams had failed to do in previous years.
Vipers are bidding to break the jinx of not qualifying past the preliminary rounds, a feat they last achieved in 1972. And with the first leg result, they would fancy their chances of going through when the return leg holds at the Enyimba Internnational Stadium on February 28
The Nigerian champions went to Uganda with high hopes of getting a result and after holding out for a barren draw in the first half, the Coach Paul Aigbogun charges let down their guard, as Cranes’ midfielder Erisa Ssekisambu netted the decisive goal on 73 minutes.
Ssekisambu was part of Ugandan squad at the just ended CHAN and his experience at the national level showed in the encounter. Rattled by the goal, Enyimba launched in attacking raids but were repelled off by a resilient Vipers’defence, who held firm to nick a famous victory over Africa’s former champions in 2003 and 2004, sparking frenzied celebrations in by home fans in the stadium.
With Vipers beginning their Champions League run on a positive note, the onus is now on Enyimba to win with a clear two goals in the second leg in a fortnight, to stand any chance of reaching the next round of the tournament.