Last night, ladies and gentlemen was a kind reminder of why we love and support this club. Sunday might have been the day where we saw our brand new stadium come back to life but, last night was the mnemonic of what keeps us addicted to this football club. And mind you, brothers and sisters, this union is for life.
Overcoming a resilient CARA side only at the death only makes it more dramatic but sitting in this crowd, not only watching our blues again but watching us win is a feeling simply incomparable. The earth below, the stanchions, all the way up to the rafters, the seats, this great stadium if human, would testify how much it has missed these moments.
On the game and lineups; check this out.
Enyimba XI: Femi Thomas, Ojobo Markson, Aloma Idris, Chinedu Udoji, Uche John, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Ezekiel Bassey, Mfon Udoh, Peter Onyekachi, Nzube Anaezemba, Andrew Abalogu
Enyimba XI: Theophilus Afelokhai, Andrew Abalogu, Ikouwem Udoh, Farouk Mohammed, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Isiaka Oladuntonye, Stanley Dimgba, Austin Oladapo, Mfon Udoh, Abdulrahman Bashir, Sunday Adetunji.
The first Enyimba XI was the last time we lined up in this stadium. Today, nearly three years later, just three starters for us make the lineup. Uche John was not on show today and Stanley Dimgba started that day, albeit for Warri Wolves, who we got a draw off on our way to the title that season. Chinedu Udoji, of course, is with the angels, defending the heavenlies.
I’m not one for throwing blames after such an emotional win, and although there is an all-round need for improvement, the players put in a decent shift. Anaemena was solid at the back, with Isiaka for a company. Andrew did his lot going forward with purpose, while for Ikouwem, there is no better left-back I know in Nigeria at the moment.
Stanley Dimgba did show flashes of his abilities and what is to come and occasionally in the first half, he got hauled down by a couple of the CARA players. For Oladapo and Farouk, playing through a defensive-minded midfield trio was some challenge. Bashir and Adetunji did offer their lot up top, albeit the one missing piece was a goal.
Mfon Udoh, for me, played like a man truly back home. In a stadium where he is revered and greatly admired, he did play a few levels higher than we had seen in the recent past. Talk has been that he was finished; on the basis of this, you’ll be silly to even consider the thought. His precision (or lack of) on those free-kicks is quite remarkable.
For Afelokhai, the challenge in such games is keeping your concentration in a game where you aren’t expected to do so much. I think he did. Wasiu Alalade will steal the headlines and formally introduce himself to the Aba fans. Leonard and Freedom also joined part of the action in the closing stages. While for Coach Abdallah, I’ll say, “This is what pressure looks and feels like”.
We are now truly back home and we have booked a date with Rwanda’s Rayon Sports in the last eight. Well, when we get to that bridge, we’d cross it. For the fans, we bask in this win and while we do, we must begin to start the education against Pitch invasions. And just In case you didn’t hear, CARA went through as well.
Corner-kick will be up in a bit.