A disjointed journey to the ends of the earth and back, over 16 hours in transit, COVID-19 testing brouhaha, a rickety bus, and a cold reception – make of it what you may the Elephants were rattled on and off the pitch.
Enyimba suffered a bruising 3-0 defeat to bottom side ES Setif in matchday four of the CAF Confederation Cup, a result that ensured Nigeria’s sole continental representative slipped to second place in Group A.
It was a dominant display from the Algerians and an uncharacteristic one from Enyimba FC; here are the major talking points from Enyimba’s 3-0 loss to ES Setif.
Enyimba were uncharacteristically slow in their build up play and defense as the Algerians got right out of the blocks from the blast of the whistle.
ES Setif initiated a high press with lots of energy that put Enyimba on the back foot early on in the game, this tipped the scale of possession in the favour of the Algerians.
Where the boys fatigued?
Did the boys get enough rest?
The slow movements in some part resulted in many individual errors as the boys were often caught in possession. Coach Fatai Osho certainly wasn’t a happy man watching his team undo themselves.
MISSING PIECE OF THE JIGSAW?
It was surprising to know that Enyimba FC had only seven touches in the opposition’s box. What could have gone wrong?
Coach Fatai Osho had made a few changes to his Starting XI from the previous squad that faced Setif in Aba. Nabil Yarou, Anthony Omaka, Dare Olatunji, and Cyril Olisema were entrusted with a starting berth in place of Nelson Ogbonnaya, Farouk Mohammed, Dayo Ojo, and Sampson Obi respectively.
However, the team didn’t click. Stringing together two to three passes were laborious, long balls were often hit into space to no one in particular, and final balls often lacked the precision and quality of a team in the calibre of Enyimba FC. It was a disjointed display and something was amiss.
While it will be unfair to pick out individual players, it is only pertinent to say that the backline/defence had a bad day in the office.
Left-back Emmanuel Ampiah and centre-back Abiodun Adebayor had a torrid time in Setif. Outnumbered in some occasions or overwhelmed by the persistent attacks, the Enyimba defense had too much to handle.
Where will Enyimba be without goalkeeper John Noble?
I could count by the fingers of my hand how many Enyimba FC players walked out of the Stade du 8 Mai on Sunday with their heads held high and John Noble will be the first on the list.
Regardless of the fact that John Noble conceded three goals, he was unarguably Enyimba’s best player on the night. The Super Eagles shot-stopper drew some fantastic reflex saves and even stopped a penalty to keep the scoreline low.
An outstanding display from a fantastic goalkeeper whose stock has continued to rise with each passing game.
A tough lesson learnt in Setif, an unmemorable night in the history of Enyimba FC but the Elephants will continue to march on.