Enyimba head coach George Finidi could not inspire the Aba Elephants to a positive result in the club’s first-ever match in the maiden edition of the African Football League, Soccernet.ng reports.
Finidi watched as his charges failed to find a way past the composed display by Wydad AC, which ensured they took back to Morocco an important 1-0 away victory over Enyimba in the first leg of the tie at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.
Enyimba’s much-anticipated debut in the African Football League (AFL) turned out to be a disappointing affair, as George Finidi’s squad stumbled against a determined Wydad AC.
Wydad AC secured the crucial away victory courtesy of captain Yahya Jabrane’s well-executed penalty.
Far away from their traditional home in Aba, Enyimba struggled to dominate proceedings in the crucial opening moments of the game.
The People’s Elephant had the chance to calm nerves with the opener early in the encounter, but the crossbar stopped Mbaoma Chijioke’s fine strike.
However, Enyimba’s game plan was thrown into the dustbin when a penalty was awarded to Wydad, skillfully converted by their skipper Jabrane before the halftime whistle.
Enyimba’s Ekene Awazie came close to equalising shortly after the break, only to be thwarted by a resilient Wydad goalkeeper, much to the dismay of the home supporters.
Flying Eagles youngster Daniel Daga and midfielder Izuogu Chibueze had chances to equalise for Enyimba, but their efforts could not find the intended targets.
Despite continuous efforts to level the score, Enyimba’s persistence was met with a solid defence and a lack of precision in front of the goal, culminating in a frustrating evening for the Nigerian champions.
Enyimba finished the game with ten men as Somiari Alalibo was shown a red card for a professional foul in stoppage time. Alalibo becomes the first player to be sent off in the AFL.
Looking ahead, Enyimba face an uphill battle as they prepare to confront Wydad AC in the return leg at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, realising the need for a significant turnaround to keep their AFL aspirations alive.
In other results, South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns went to Angola to shoot down Petro de Luanda in a 2-0 win.
Egyptian giants Al Ahly forced Simba SC to a 2-2 draw in Tanzania.
TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo got the only home win of the quarterfinals as they edged to a 1-0 victory over Tunisia’s Esperance.