South African side Mamelodi Sundowns have already secured the place for the semis, leaving the three-team’s other spot at the mercy of Enyimba and Egyptian giants Zamalek.
“If I should say it is going to be easy qualifying from this group then, I may be very far from the truth. However, I want to assure our supporters that it looks very tough but we are going to play the last two matches with the last drop of blood in our veins and it shall be approached as if our lives depend on it,” stated the hard tackling defender.
He continued, “Surely, we did not start the group stage as we should have. Giving away a home game and not able to hold out for a road draw in South Africa did not help our cause. As it stands, only an outright victory in Cairo against Zamalek will steady our ship and that is what the team has collectively resolved to do. They defeated us in Port-Harcourt; why can't we pay them back in their own coin? A little luck is what we need right now”.
Towing the line of Udoji is full back, China Akas, who captained the Nigerian team at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Rwanda last January, insisting the dream is far from over.
“We can do it. It is looking very tough and unachievable but we have resolved to pleasantly surprise our fans. Our last two games are must win matches,” said Akas.
The seven-time Nigeria league champions has found scoring goals in the group stage of the competition a very tough task despite having leading marksman, Mfon Udoh in their list. They have managed just one goal in two matches while leaking in three and have not been having it smooth in the domestic scene which has seen them lose grip of the top teams in running for the diadem.
On his part, Technical Director of the Peoples’ Elephant, Jude Anyadufu added “It is quite disturbing what have become of our team especially on the continent. But, that does not translate to mean that we have surrendered.
“We never give up and that is the spirit that we are taking to Egypt against Zamalek. Yes, they beat us in Port-Harcourt and recently won the Egyptian cup, but that does not scare us as the maximum points on stake remains our target. Surely, we are still in the race to win a third trophy for Nigeria”.
Enyimba will be banking on the quartet of Joseph Osadiaye, Stephen Chukwude, Ifeanyi Onuigbo and Udoh to find their ranges with adequate midfield creativity anchored by Kester Kelly and Ezekiel Bassey while Udoji, Dare Ojo, Akas and Emmanuel Anyanwu give needed cover for experienced shot stopper, Theophilus Afelokhai to achieve the expected result that will resurrect their title aspirations for the season.
Zamalek have not fared too well as expected from their followers having lost two and won one of the three matches played thus far in a group reduced to three teams following the disqualification of Algerian side, ES Setif. The Cairo giants suffered back-to-back losses to Sundowns and must avoid defeat to end Enyimba’s dreams.
The visitors will have to be weary of forward Bassem Morsy, who broke the hearts of over a million supporters when the two sides faced off in Port-Harcourt last June and has not relented ever since as his double against eternal rivals Al-Ahly helped Zamalek to a fourth consecutive Egyptian cup win.
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