The Port Harcourt-based side were super-motivated to beat Enyimba away from home but the Aba Elephants claimed a narrow victory on Sunday
Cyril Chinedu Olisema’s second-half strike was all ten-man Enyimba International needed to secure a 1-0 victory in their CAF Confederations Cup first-leg fixture against Rivers United at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba.
Rivers United won home and away against South African side Bloemfontein Celtics in the previous round and hoped for a similar outing against reigning NPFL kings, Enyimba.
The Pride of Rivers’ cause was even boosted by the Rivers state government’s promise to gift 20 million naira to the team should they triumph over the People’s Elephants away from home.
But two-time African champions, Enyimba, showed enough guile and grit to carve out the slenderest of victories over their high-flying guests.
Both teams missed chances during a scoreless first half halted for a while by heavy rainfall.
But Enyimba’s defining moment arrived just before the hour when Anayo Iwuala held off tackles to set up Olisema who held his nerves to beat Afelokhai at his near post.
Fatai Osho’s charges were, however, reduced to ten men midway through the half as Tosin Omoyele was sent off for an off-ball incident.
Enyimba, however, managed their lead, ensuring that they approach the return fixture in a week with a clean sheet.