Nigeria’s sole survivors in Africa’s premier club competition, the CAF Champions League, Enyimba FC were knocked out by Sudanese side, El Merreikh in the qualifying rounds of the 2020/21 CAF Champions League season on aggregate with a 4-2 aggregate scoreline. Enyimba lost the first leg in Sudan by a margin of 3 goals to nil, and welcomed their Sudanese visitors to the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Wednesday for the second leg of the tie.
The Sudanese outfit showed attacking initiative and took an early lead in the 8th minute, with attacker Saif Terry opening the scoring. Enyimba seemed to awake following the goal, and they found an equaliser shortly after through young striker, Victor Mbaoma in the 14th minute of the encounter. The People’s Elephant finished the half strongly, creating chance after chance, but the visitors’ defence stood firm.
The second half resumed with Enyimba continuing from where they left off in the first, putting the backline of El Merreikh under constant pressure, and it finally yielded when new man, Samad Kadiri, won his team a penalty. Once again, it was Mbaoma that stepped up to give his side the lead on the day. Enyimba needed to score three more goals, and they huffed and puffed, with Kadiri hitting the frame of the goal with a shot, and the El Merreikh keeper saving brilliantly from the hard working forward on another occasion. At the end, Enyimba were unable to score any more goals, and the game ended 2-1.
Enyimba’s loss means that Nigeria will have no representatives at this season’s Champions League after NPFL’s other representative, Plateau United had earlier been eliminated by Tanzanian side, Simba AC. It thus rules out the possibility of a Nigerian side winning the title, extending the wait for a Nigerian winner to 17 years, since Enyimba themselves last won the trophy back-to-back in 2003 and 2004. The loss means that Enyimba would now drop into the preliminary stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.