Inside the 90’: Streetwise Elephants stun ES Setif in Aba

What was more captivating than Coach Nabil Kouki trying to break Usain Bolt’s world record with a 50 metres sprint towards the referee at the blast of full-time? There was no love lost on Valentine’s Day and certainly no forgiveness on a sultry Easter Sunday at the Enyimba Stadium.

Enyimba FC rallied to a 2-1 win over Algeria side ES Setif on matchday three of the CAF Confederation Cup. The visitors started brightly when Monsef Barkar tapped in from close range in the 12th minute, Enyimba grabbed the equalizer just before half-time from Austin Oladapo’s piledriver. However, Tosin Omoyele picked his spot in the 60th minute for what would turn out to be the winner.

It was an end to end, open, and explosive clash; and here are the major talking points from Enyimba’s 2-1 win over ES Setif.

HE DOESN’T DO EASY JOBS, DOES HE?

Whenever I see Austin Oladapo’s name on the scorer’s sheet the first question that comes to my mind is how far and hard did he hit it?

It looked like it wasn’t to be his day when he failed to convert a penalty in the 17th minute. Khedairia guessed right and parried Austin’s spot-kick to safety. No need to sulk. Consistency and tireless running has been the hallmark of Enyimba’s armband bearer this season. The captain never stopped running and got his reward in the 40th minute when Tosin Omeyele’s hold up played teed up an inviting shot, the midfielder rifled home a low drive beating the ES Setif goalkeeper this time and from range. Who cares about 12 yards when he can hit it from 25.

A captain’s contribution, his third in the competition reminiscent of the Ahly Benghazi strike. He doesn’t score easy goals – does he?

CLASS IS PERMANENT

Form they say is temporary but class is permanent.

Under extremely hot conditions, three permanent markers, and an extra pressure of something to prove after his romance with the Super Eagles, Anayo Iwuala looked far from his best.

The fleet-footed winger looked lethargic, and often wore a frown, grimacing after a long chase; but all that changed in the 59th minute when Anayo in a Hazard-esque move dribbled past eight ES Setif players before releasing a true ball onto the path of Tosin Omoyele who expertly beat the offside trap to grab the winner.

Special players don’t need all the time in the world, they only need one moment of magic to prove their class and this Coach Fatai Osho knew so well that he kept faith in his man.

SUPER EAGLE

Fresh from a maiden call-up to the national team and it will suffice to refer to goalkeeper John Noble as a Super Eagle – such was his form against ES Setif.

Time and again John Noble has proven to be invaluable to Enyimba’s quest for glory since joining the club.

Strings of great saves, spread of the wings like an airplane, and an intimidating frame to match; but the pick of the bunch was a 71st minute action. John Noble plucked a Saidi right-footed cross mid-air with the right hand to deny an onrushing Setif player from heading home. A save and a half.

OSHO PLAYS HIS HAND

Coach Fatai Osho kept shaking his head and shouting instructions on the touchline – what a tourtuous 90 minutes of football it must have been for the gaffer.

It was an uncaharcteristic laboured display, lots of spaces to be attacked by the Algerians, misplaced passes, and sometimes poor decisions. Osho had seen enough and had to play his hand. The tactician threw in Dare Olatunji and Cyril Olisema for Farouk Mohammed and Dayo Ojo.

A move that turned the tie around with more composed passes, confidence on the ball, and a great game management – it was a midas touch.

A ROGUE FAROUK

Football is a funny bit of business. One day you are the cock of the walk, on other times you have your back against the wall.

Farouk Mohammed was suspect with nearly every touch. The Ghanian had his boot changed before half-time, but nothing seem to work from his range of passing to tackles.

Albeit a bad day in the office, the midfielder had one very telling contribution, a vital block to deny Amoura a chance to shoot at goal after the Algerian had danced his way through the Enyimba defence.

WERE ES SETIF IN ABA FOR CHARITY?

It would have been 1-3 or 1-4 before half-time, but somehow the scoreline stayed at 1-1.

ES Setif had 4 big chances in the first half, but either hit a tame shoot or completely fluff their lines. Those missed chances came back to haunt them as the game wore on.

Overall, the result was enough to lift Enyimba to the top of group A after Al Ahly Benghazi played a goalless draw with Orlando Pirates in the group’s other game. Obviously, that was what mattered most for the team.

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