Nigeria Premier Football League champions are in Kampala to honour a date with the Ugandan champions who are making their debut appearance in Africa’s premier club competition.
Actions resume in the CAF Champions League as Ugandan champions Vipers SC trade tackles with two-time African champions Enyimba of Aba at the Nakivubo Stadium in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
The People’s Elephant’s 36-man contingent landed in the Entebbe International Airport in the earlier hours of Wednesday in preparation for the game slated for Friday.
After showing incredible consistency to outwit Sunshine Stars and Warri Wolves and claim the league title last season, the Aba Elephants showed lackluster form at the recently-concluded Super Four pre-season tournament.
Akwa United were crowned champions of the 2016 Nigeria Professional Football League Super Four pre-season tournament.
However, Paul Aigbogun, the new head coach of Enyimba, has spoken of his team’s readiness to overcome the hurdle presented by Vipers.
“I’m not bothered, I am not under pressure. Given the time scale, we prepared as best as we could for the game. We are focused and we will go out on Friday and give everything we’ve got.
“It may be my first competitive game with the team but it’s not an issue. This is a club very experienced on the continent and a lot of the players here have been in big games, so there’s no issue.”
The Ugandan press has been flooded with reports of Vipers plotting a major upset for their more fancied opponents.
But an unperturbed Aigbogun said: “It’s more important what we do than what the other team is saying. I’m not reading about what’s coming from the camp of the opponents. It’s what we do here that matters. My focus is on our team and a good result, nothing more.”
Enyimba’s skipper, Chinedu Udoji was even more bullish about the chances of the Nigerian champions ahead of the game.
“Everyone who knows me knows I love to win and being the captain of Enyimba, a club that always wants to win trophies, the pressure to succeed is even greater. I am not happy that in our last two outings we exited the competition early. I still feel bad about it so my desire for the team to do well this time is very strong,” he said.
“This time we want to break that hoodoo and reach the group stage.”
Udoji does not believe the team will be affected by the change in manager after the last head coach helped them to the league title last season, while reserving praise for the new players that recently joined the former African champions.
“Coach Paul is not a stranger to the team. He has been here before and we know him for his hard work and discipline. He’s a coach who encourages players to do well. He has a great philosophy and every player is happy to work with him. He’s a great addition to Enyimba and to our continental campaign.”
“The new players have blended in very well. We are united and our passion to win is strong. Everyone wants to do well, to win, so I believe we would not have any problems against Vipers due to the new guys.”
Friday’s game will take place at 4pm local (2pm Nigerian) time inside the Nakivubo stadium.