Enyimba kicked off their CAF Confederation Cup group stage qualification campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Senegalese outfit Diambars FC at the Stade Lat Dior in their second round playoff.
In new coach Finidi George’s first match in charge of the Nigerian giants, Enyimba fielded a good number of new players, including goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo, Super Eagles defender Adekunle Adeleke, striker Chukwuemeka Obioma and midfielder Fatai Abdullahi, all signed from city rivals, Abia Warriors.
Super Eagles legend George was appointed to replace former coach Fatai Osho in the off-season after the club decided to part ways with the coach.
The visitors struggled in the initial exchanges to keep up with the coordination of the Senegalese outfit co-founded by current Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira in 2003, as Diambars looked like the stronger side, forcing Enyimba goalkeeper Ojo into a number of good saves.
Enyimba coach George was going berserk on the sidelines as he gave instructions to his players on the pitch. It was, however, a combination of two of Enyimba’s key players from last season that put them ahead with only three minutes left to play in the match.
Industrious winger Orok Gabriel picked up the ball on the left wing in Enyimba’s own half before proceeding to charge down the flank all alone until he was hacked down in the box by a Diambars defender. Midfielder Cyril Olisema stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot to put Enyimba in the driving seat in the 87th minute.
Enyimba held on until the final whistle to secure an important away win and secure a massive advantage for themselves ahead of the return leg in Aba. Coach George will especially be pleased with his side’s performance because they failed to win a single match away from home in the CAF Confederation Cup last season.