Good morning Guys,
So our Champions League campaign is ended. Just in case you’re the only one in Israel who hasn’t heard, we couldn’t get the result we needed in Egypt and thus we are knocked out following a 1-0 defeat.
@TheOddSolace won the bid to write today’s blog and his thoughts are below.
Looking back, this will surely go down as one of the strangest CAF Champions League campaigns in recent memory. We went into our penultimate game of the group stage pointless, but in the knowledge that a win would see us through to the semi-finals. It’s not often one can say he made it to the last 4 with just three points on the board.
In the end, it was not to be and, truth be told, no one can say it was an undeserved outcome. Once again, that man Bassem Morsy proved decisive, scoring from the penalty spot after captain Chinedu Udoji’s hand appeared struck the ball in the box.
Was it a penalty, really? If you’re asking this, perhaps you’re missing the point. We’ve seen them given, and considering our play up until that point, it’s not like the goal knocked the stuffing out of the lads, or shifted the momentum of the game anyway.
That Bassem Morsy, eh? Perhaps we should sign him up? His penalty was, after all, the only thing that got past Theophilus Afelokhai all evening. Our goalkeeper was the only player who emerged with any credit, pulling out save after flying save. He stood up to be counted in Egypt, as did our stalwart central defence of Anyanwu and Udoji, at least for the most part.
The disappointment of last night stems, not so much from the defeat (it was always a tough proposition to win in Egypt), but from the manner of it. We simply didn’t look like a team that needed to win the game to stay in the competition.
It’s one thing to be bullish and fan the embers of hope by telling us fans that Zamalek are beatable, but something else altogether to then face them like they’re Guardiola-era Barcelona. Of course, it would have been naive to be gung-ho from the start and get countered to death, but Enyimba set up like this was a two-legged knockout tie, and we were protecting a home lead.
Only after the goal did we really get going, and it was a sad sight to see the competition’s top scorer make his way onto the pitch from the bench, when the team needed a win. Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction.
So ends our adventure. We can now focus all our energies on mounting a late title chall–ah, I’m not even sure I believe that right now. We’re some way off the pace in the league, and it would take a tremendous run of performances to make up the ground. If last night was anything to go by, rising to the occasion isn’t something our Elephants seem able to do any more.
This season cannot end quickly enough.