Nigeria’s sole remaining representative in continental football, Enyimba go into the second leg of their CAF Confederations Cup fixture against Egypt’s Pyramids FC on Sunday in Aba trailing 4-1 from the first leg.
Although miracles exist in football, it will take only a hardened fan with a belief in the supernatural to harbour any hopes that the Aba giants will surmount this obstacle.
The last time Pyramids FC were in Nigeria in 2019, they defeated Enugu Rangers 3-1, and though we agree that no two games are the same, here are five reasons why the Egyptians may leave Nigeria victorious on Sunday:
- For anyone who saw the first leg, a comedy of errors and a farcical schoolboy defending gifted Pyramids three of their four goals on the night after Enyimba had also benefited from a goalkeeping error to score the game’s opener through Victor Mbaoma. Though coach Fatai Osho blamed his team’s shocking performance on fatigue, any objective pundit would see the team simply developed cold feet and failed to perform and it is difficult to see how they would have overcome that in just seven days to turn around the result.
- Even if we accept Osho’s explanation that the team was fatigued and now fully primed for the decisive second leg, they will need to score a minimum of three unreplied goals to scale through and this is where things get a bit uncomfortable for the Elephants. Enyimba are not known for being prolific in front of goals, especially under Osho. The last time they put three goals past any side was in March 2020 in a 3-0 win over Sunshine Stars in the Nigerian Premier Football League. Since then, they’ve gone 32 games without scoring more than two goals. So how and where Enyimba will get the required three goals or more to scale through remains to be seen?
- Against any other team it could have been possible but Pyramids FC are one of the most motivated club sides in Africa which is run on a European model. They arrived in Nigeria for this game on Friday in their customised club private jet so there won’t be an issue of fatigue or jet lagas they didn’t fly via a commercial plane as Enyimba did.
- Pyramids also pay some of the best wages in African club football so they’re able to attract top talents. How many clubs in the world can dole out 50 million euros to buy players in just one transfer window? How many clubs have a Saudi billionaire bankrolled them? How many clubs in the world have their own private jet? Their large purse means that, in just two years, they’re challenging Egypt’s two biggest clubs Al Ahli and Zamalek, and have now finished in third place twice in a row so it is a question of when, not if, they will take over Egyptian football.
- With cash not being a constraint, they have been able to sign some of Egypt’s best players and players from other African countries to beef up their team and none come bigger than Ramadan Sobhi who’s considered the most exposed player in the CAF Confederations Cup. Sobhi, who has garnered massive experience playing in the English Premier League with Stoke City and Huddersfield was the arrowhead for Pyramids in the first leg, scoring one and assisting another goal in the 4-1 demolition.
If you add all of these to the fact that Pyramids went all the way to the final of this competition last season before narrowly losing on penalties to Morocco’s RS Berkane, then you’ll know the odds are stacked against Enyimba.