A slender lead but well deserved win. 

Yet another jam packed Enyimba Stadium watched as we beat our opponents Smouha SC of Egypt 1-0 on Sunday. Raphael Boumsong came off the bench to get the crucial goal ten minutes after the restart. In truth it could have been more but it appears the goalscoring problem has yet to be fixed. 

Kadiri Ikhana made a couple of interesting changes in his starting XI. Ejiogu was back in goal and the back four- Esieme, Udoji, Anyanwu and Aloma picked themselves. Chima Uluocha made his first Champions League start and what a game he had. He probably wouldn’t have gotten the nod if Kamal Sikiru had not gotten injured few days back. So the chance came for him to make a start and boy did he grab it with both hands. It is interesting that somehow Razak Aliyu hasn’t featured at all for Kadiri Ikhana this season and with this showing, Razak might realize he even has a bigger battle to regain his place. 

The biggest changes were in attack, Nonso Okonkwo got dropped to the bench for Abdulrahman Bashir. Bashir is one player who despite his early Enyimba promises and impressive performances, have yet to hit those heights again. Kadiri giving him that chance was as moral boosting as you could see. First appearance in the season, such a high profile game but unlike Chima Uluocha who had a great game, Bashir had what could best be described as a stinker. His touches were poor, he looked lost most times and honestly his contribution was not good enough yesterday. Match rustiness, lack of sufficient playing time, he was a photograph of a man bereft of confidence. The remedy? More work in the training ground, much more assurances from the coach and maybe a YouTube compilation of the goals he scored in last year’s Super Four Tournament.

Etor on the other hand was the best player in the park and he deservedly got a standing ovation when he was eventually subbed later in the game. Peter and Sokari both showed what they bring to the team with their contributions to our attacking play, the sad part however is the fact that they missed a whole lot of chances. 1-0 against Smouha is a good win but let’s be honest, it should and could have been more. They even had the ball in the net in the second period but it was rightfully deemed offside. Even Referee Bernett who never sees a Nigerian team win a game under his watch got that jinx destroyed yesterday. 

Maybe not a throughly satisfying win but a win nonetheless. A 1-0 lead is a slender lead but it is a lead no doubt. Smouha know they have it all to do  when they face us in two weeks time. In the mean time we will enjoy this and enjoy the positives. 

More tomorrow



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