Sundowns 2-1 Enyimba: Now hanging by the thread

Good morning everyone. 

Our attempt to reawaken our Champions League campaign went bad last night. In a cold night in Pretoria, we just couldn’t get the sort of result that could put us back into serious contention. Our opponents, the Brazilians triumphing over us 2-1. 

Match Day One’s defeat put an extra pressure on the outcome of this tie and despite that we only lost a game away from home which in itself isn’t too hideous a crime, we find ourselves just at the verge of waving the tournament good bye. Realistically, our destiny is gone off our hands. Isn’t that just classic Nigerian stuff? 

The gaffer (or whoever writes the team sheets)  picked Ocheje for Afelokhai and Onuigbo + Pyagbara were picked up top yet again. First on Ocheje’s selection, no disrespect to him, we know he’s not the best goalkeeper in the squad. And if you will drop your best goalkeeper, one who saved three spotkicks in Sousse as well as other countless saves for a goalkeeper the whole world knows has at least one or two errors in him just because Afelokhai is fingered as culpable for the Zamalek goal, then something is not right. 

Alot of folks will say Ocheje isn’t responsible for the goals we conceded but for their second goal, I think Afelokhai would have organized the men in white better since nowadays they now can’t even organize themselves. The fella who got their second, was afforded too much space in the area and you want to wonder wherever Chima Akas went to. I mean, you can be an excellent set-piece taker but if you as a left back can’t be found at your position then something is terribly wrong. Udoji who tried to close him down was too far from him but where was the man who should be at LB? 

On Onuigbo’s continued selection. I want to ask, (with due respect to him yet again, no insults), can we boldly claim that the other strikers in the team had gotten an uninhibited run like he has in the side. He’s started his fourth straight game at Enyimba and all we have  seen is the usual huffing and puffing, no goals, no assists, just nothing yet he always gets to start as though someone is trying so hard to justify his signing. If it’s not working, why not start him from the bench sometime? And not a bid to exonerate others, when was the last time an Enyimba striker actually scored a goal? Ifeanyi George Nasarawa vs Enyimba. 

Well with the benefit of hindsight anyone can say anything you’ll argue but at the end of the first half, it was obvious something was wrong with how we were set up. We asked for three men in the middle but surely not two guys up front. And of the former, Ibenegbu had his worst performance in an Enyimba Jersey. On a night where his experience should have come to the fore, he looked distracted by maybe the cold. 

The introductions of Peter Onyekachi and Mfon Udoh led to our best spell of the game and soon afterwards we got yet another Dare Ojo bomb that pulled us level. While we criticize the poor signings, we must praise whoever sanctioned Ojo’s signing. Clearly our player of the season so far. But the fact that he is wasting away at RB further explains what is wrong this season. 

Someone should have told the side that a point wasn’t a bad result after all, but we pushed for a second and after a Kelly Kester header narrowly skid off target, our hosts stepped up gears and we buckled at the back yet again from a well executed freekick. 

The result makes qualifying from the group slimmer than it was 24 hours ago. Qualifying would mean beating Zamalek in Egypt, Sundowns in PH and then hoping Zamalek beats Sundowns home and away. I can’t even believe I’m having such hopes. We can lay blames at any quarter of our choice but looking forward, I think we can keep to heart, the lessons learned from this season as a whole. 

We can also look at that brief spell in the second half where we looked something close to Enyimba International and see what we can salvage from what has been a very trying season. 

Back tomorrow. 


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