Inside The 90’: God of soccer smiles under the floodlight in Aba

Football has continued to throw interesting tales in the long history of the game many have come to love and matchday six was a page out of football’s rich history.

Cyril Olisema was drowned in the sea of emotions when he saved Enyimba from the jaws of elimination whirling away in ecstasy as the Elephants danced onto the morning; these are the moments we live for, there’s no feeling like that feeling. This is why we love the game.

Enyimba threw in the kitchen sink in injury time when Anayo Iwuala provided a cut-back in the box for Cyril Olisema to score the winner in the 95th minute of the game to hand Orlando Pirates their first defeat in Group A in a matchday six tie decided on Wednesday at the Enyimba Stadium.

Tense, nervy, nostalgic, and full of suspense; here are the major talking points from Enyimba’s 1-0 victory over Orlando Pirates.

FORTRESS

The phrase ‘home, sweet home’ has never been more appropriate in world football. The People’s Elephant made the Enyimba Stadium a fortress throughout the group stage, winning all three games.

We will have to go back to the 2013 league season where Enyimba did not concede a goal at home within the campaign to buttress how strong the Elephants can be at home.

Although the team has played without the fans, all three group opponents (Ahly Benghazi, ES Setif and Orlando Pirates) have fallen at the Elephant Park ensuring the eight-time league champions maintained a hundred percent record to boost their chances of qualification to the next round.

The team’s home form has been in sharp contrast to the away form, where they lost all three games on the road.

AN ANAYO AND A HALF

Wednesday’s game was a big occasion and one that required the big performers to step up to the party – and that they did.

Tricky winger Anayo Iwuala had the hopes of many club faithfuls on his shoulder, such has been his performance this season that he earned a call-up to the national team.

Just like he weaved his magic against ES Setif on matchday three dancing past six Algerians to set up Omoyele for the winner, Anayo pierced through the Pirates defence and delivered a sweet square pass across the face of goal for Olisema to hit it first time into the net.

Regardless of the goal contribution which was his tenth assist of the campaign, Anayo was a handful for the Buccaneers; full of running, drawing markers onto himself, and pulling players out of position, a complete performance that was only goal-shy.

A nightmare for defenders, that was an Anayo and a half.

STEP UP

The absence of captain Austin Oladapo was a major concern and quite well dominated the discussion ahead of the game. Oladapo who is the team’s most prolific player in the campaign with three goals, a leader, and a stabilizer sat out the game due to suspension, and Coach Fatai Osho had a job to do.

Farouk Mohammed, Orok Gabriel, Daniel Darkwah, Nabil Yarou, Victor Mbaoma, and Cyril Olisema all got a starting berth and paid good the manager’s trust in them. The boys showed good pressing, energy, commitment, and teamwork.

OSHO GO FOR BROKE

If there was any relieved man in the world at full blast of the whistle it should be Coach Fatai Osho. The manager played his hand in a bid to rescue the game.

Osho did all his substitutions early before the 66th minute, and throwing in more attacking influence in the mould of Samad Kadiri, Tosin Omoyele, and Philip Ozor.

While the changes in some sort could have left the Elephants vulnerable at the back, it gave them the impetus to throw more bodies forward, especially Cyril Olisema who joined the attack to create an overload. A move that paid off with a last gasp winner.

GOD OF SOCCER

Believe it or not, footballers, coaches, and the fans believe there is a “god of soccer,” and if this is anywhere close to truth the god of soccer at the Elephant Park was surely smiling under the floodlight.

A complete 90 minutes of football torment, nerve-wrenching, and a feeling of would this be our day. But just like it was written in the stars, Olisema scored with almost the last kick of the game; unbelieveable, frenzy, but this is football – a gift that keeps on giving.

Sometimes you have got to force your luck or better still earn your luck, and the Elephants gave it their all.

This was a real steal and the Sea Robbers must have been disappointed Enyimba beat them to their game.

A great game of football, one that will be talked about for many more years to come.

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