In a recent development, Nwankwo Kanu, the chairman of Enyimba Football Club, has expressed his confidence in the team’s ability to recover from their recent setback in the CAF Champions League. The People’s Elephant, two-time champions of the competition in 2003 and 2004, faced disappointment as they were eliminated by Al-Ahly Benghazi during the preliminary round of the tournament. The Nigerian club was held to a goalless draw in Aba, ultimately losing 4-3 on aggregate after a last-minute goal by the Libyan side in the first leg.
Kanu, who assumed the role of chairman in May, acknowledged the disappointment but emphasized the positive aspects of the team’s performance. He stated, “It is very disappointing, but we have to go home with the positives. We did create chances, it’s not like they (Al-Ahly Benghazi) did better than us, they had only one shot at goal.” Kanu also encouraged the players to shift their focus towards the Nigerian Professional Football League title defense.
Despite the outcome, Kanu maintained a resilient attitude, asserting that the team’s performance was not subpar. “When you lose a game, of course it is a bad one, but I wouldn’t say it’s a bad start,” he remarked. “We want to be in the group stage of the CAF Champions League and do what we have to do. If we didn’t play well and we lost, that’s another problem. That’s the point I’ll say that it’s a bad start.”
The former international footballer urged the team to overcome the disappointment and look ahead to their upcoming competitions. “Sometimes these things happen to the best teams, the best players and that’s football,” Kanu said. “We have to move on. The boys have to put their heads up and then know that sometimes in life you fall and you stand up. We need to support and encourage them to do better next time.”
Anthony Okachi, a striker for Enyimba, echoed the sentiment that the team had been unfortunate in the match against Al-Ahly Benghazi. Okachi, who entered the game in the 72nd minute, acknowledged the challenge posed by the opposing team’s strong defense. “I feel disappointed but then it’s football,” Okachi commented. “Football is a game of pressure, which we tried so well to handle and then the fans were amazing, kept supporting till the last minute. Yes, I think luck was not on our side. I believe that if luck was on our side, we could have won the game. But it wasn’t an easy game even though we were at home.”
Enyimba’s exit from the CAF Champions League serves as a motivating factor for the team to strive for excellence in their future endeavors, particularly as they pursue success in the Nigerian Professional Football League and the Federation Cup.