To play or not to play, some Egyptian drama

Good morning Everyone. 

Trust the night and the week as a whole were good. Been quite an eventful 24 hours from an Enyimba point of view and we are going to churn on it as much as we can. 

By the time we wrote our blog yesterday, news emerged that the Enyimba management had rejected the call for us to play our game vs Zamalek a day before the earlier agreed date. Chief Anyansi’s wealth of experience in the Continent means he understands these gimmicks and tricks of clubs of other African Countries. Every club has theirs but I think with the North Africans, there’s a lot in their bag. 

So their reason was ‘security concerns’ seeing that there’s some function, some memorial scheduled on the Sunday we were to play. And knowing Enyimba had ‘arrived’, they asked the game to be played Saturday. But that was not the initial plan like I’d said twice already. Enyimba had six of their best players away at the Spain Tour. They were supposed to be joining up with the team from Spain to meet up with the game.

The press release by the club meant the authorities had to do something. That, in addition to some dust raising, CAF released a statement saying the kickoff had been moved for an hour 45 minutes from the Saturday kickoff. At this time of course, Chinedu Udoji and the rest of our Spain Contingent were already airborne and heading to Cairo. 

But at the prematch meeting, both clubs eventually agreed that the game could be played on Monday. And they made to inform the CAF Authorities on their agreement. There has not been any ‘formal’ reaction from CAF on the matter. By formal I mean, no word from their official Twitter handle. That of course should be their easiest mode of communication to the public. But ultimately you’ll think the game will go on on Monday as been agreed by both clubs.

In the mean time, the Enyimbaless NPFL All Stars were hammered by Malaga last night. 4-1 it ended and their display was nothing close to what it was like in the Valencia game. And their coach, Salisu Yusuf faults the fact that Enyimba took their players away from the camp prematurely as cause for the stinging defeat. 

“I was asked this question before the game and the answer I gave was simply that its a lesson we have learned. Maybe next time we will come with more players, or not bring players who will have important assignments with their clubs”. 

“Because of the shortage of players we had to play some out of position and we will do the same thing against Athletico Madrid on Saturday”. 

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say to that but it looks negligent that they had expected that Enyimba played such a crucial game without several of their players. Otherwise why have as much as six Enyimba players and no.sufficient cover, I mean you’re playing three games within three days. You didn’t expect to play these six guys in all three games. (Five guys actually with Ezekiel Bassey not making the trip to Cairo). 

Let’s hope it doesn’t get to a cricket score when we face Athletico Madrid tomorrow. If it does, it all adds to lessons learned.

Anyway, Safe Hands Theo has also voiced his thoughts with regards to the game in Egypt. 

“I haven’t lost hope or else I wouldn’t have left Spain to Egypt when I’m billed to start against Malaga but I’m leaving the camp here to go to Cairo because I believe it is possible”.

“Remember they beat us at home so we know we can also beat them at their home then beat Sundowns in the final game to qualify. I know this and my colleague know it too so we are all optimistic”. 

Rightly said Theo. We just have to achieve the difficult on Monday and rest assured, we will do our part from here. 

Its difficult to say how this season would end but I’m thinking this unique set of adversities we’ve faced will birth some strong bond within the team and I think we will be a lot better next season. For starts, we won’t be signing 14 new faces next year and a couple of underperformers will be shown the door. 

The ones who remain would have had one year of knowing each other better. And then again, we would be playing at home. 

Back tomorrow.



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