Enyimba FC lost their third and final group game on the road in this season’s CAF Confederation Cup as Al Taib’s strike handed Ahly Benghazi all three points on Thursday night at the Martyrs of February Stadium in Benghazi.
The People’s Elephant had a torrid time creating chances of their own in a very tight contest where chances were few and far between.
Timothy Danladi and Philip Ozor were the only changes from the tie against ES Setif in Algeria while the rest of the squad retained their spot.
The host showed intent from the blast of the whistle as they attacked with verve in the opening ten minutes, but the first real chance of the game came in the 12th minute when Austin Oladapo dragged his shot just wide off the mark after a square pass from the right by Anayo Iwuala.
Both teams continued to try their luck from range and Tosin Omoyele should have given Enyimba the lead in the 31st minute when he was put through on goal, but the striker rushed his shot, hitting the ball into the stands.
However, in the 40th minute Benghazi grabbed the opener in fortuitous fashion when Muttasem Al Taib’s shot across the face of goal was tamely parried into the net by John Noble, giving Ahly Benghazi a halftime lead.
Benghazi almost doubled their lead after the break when the captain nodded the ball onto the turf and slightly over the crossbar in the 48th minute after a fine work from Al Taib on the left.
Enyimba’s night went bad when team captain Austin Oladapo pulled up with an injury in the 53rd minute and was replaced by Anthony Omaka.
The home team took the sting out of the game as they drew fouls deep into the second half. However, the Elephants were left with a mountain to climb when defender Timothy Danladi was shown a red card for a rash tackle at the edge of the box in the 74th minute.
Ten man Enyimba lifted up their game in the final fifteen minutes as coach Fatai Osho introduced Cyril Olisema and Orok Gabriel to salvage the situation.
With little left on the clock, Anayo Iwaula missed a golden opportunity to equalize in injury time after failing to keep his effort down from a goal-mouth scrabble.
In the end Al Taib’s strike proved decisive for the host.
Enyimba has now dropped to third in Group A with six points from five matches, a point shy of second place Ahly Benghazi, and three off group leaders Orlando Pirates.
Osho’s men host Orlando Pirates at home on matchday 6 in a must-win game.
“Quite an improved performance on our part, we know we had to get a good result here to stand a very good chance of going to the quarterfinal, we had our work cut out and the players are quite aware of this, and they really worked so hard. The goal came and it was quite a shocking one at that, after that we tried to rescue the situation and the red card changed the narrative to some extent, even at that we tried to salvage the situation but unfortunately we couldn’t.” – Coach Fatai Osho