Enyimba celebrating their winning goal against San Pedro… on Sunday.Former African champions, Enyimba of Aba, yesterday beat Rivers United 1-0 in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup.
The game played at the Enyimba stadium had elicited interest from football followers from across the country following rivalry between the two teams in Nigerian football.
Before the game, Rivers United had promised to show Nigerians they are the better side and deserved to have played in the Champions League instead of Enyimba in line with their performance in the local league last season.
Again, the Port Harcourt-based side went into the game sure of reaping huge rewards, including a N20 million promise by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, if they beat Enyimba in Aba.
As early as 3.00 p.m. the Aba Stadium had been filled to the brim by fans of both teams, who saw the game as the deciding battle in their continental campaign.
Despite playing most of the final part of the game with a player down, after their main striker, Tosin Omoyele, was given a red card, the Fatai Osho-led Enyimba was able to get the desired win.
Cyril Olisemah scored the only goal of the game in the 59th minute, which has given the eight-time Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) winners a good base to plan for the away leg.
Speaking after the game, Enyimba midfielder, Anthony Omaka, said the game was a difficult one, especially after it was stopped for some minutes due to heavy downpour in Aba.
“We knew before that it would not be an easy encounter against Rivers United,” he said.
“This is a team that recruited some of our past players like Theophilus Afelokai in their rank, but as a team, we were determined to get the victory.”
“I am happy that despite the red card, we didn’t capitulate and was able to see the game through till the end.”
Also son the game, Rivers United coach, Stanley Eguma, said his boys played better in the game but were unlucky not to get victory.