Enyimba International FC will today battle fellow Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side, Rivers United in the first leg of the second Preliminary Round of the CAF Confederation Cup in Aba.
Both sides are very familiar with one another having battled each other for the past two decades during which they consistently played in Nigeria’s top flight league.
Both Enyimba and Rivers United are in their best of form going into the Sunday encounter having defeated their opponents Plateau United and Nasarawa United respectively in their last NPFL outing as the People’s Elephants are leaders of the NPFL table followed strongly by the Pride of Rivers in second spot.
Speaking ahead of the clash Enyimba head coach Fatai Osho sees Sunday’s game as a celebration of Nigeria’s top flight, believes the stakes are higher than a regular domestic clash between both sides and the players know this.
“The players will see it a bit different because the setting is actually different. What is at stake is actually different from what is obtainable at the level of the NPFL and we are going to see a situation whereby both sides will come out because they know what it means to play at the group stage of the competition.
“It is a platform that they can use to express themselves and let people know what they can do. Nobody wants to lose that kind of opportunity and I foresee a situation where both sides will want to come out for each other but I see it as more of a celebration of the NPFL on Sunday.
According to Ifeanyi Anaemena, a former vice-captain of Enyimba who left the club at the end of last season after five productive seasons with the People’s Elephant to pitch his tent with Rivers United seems fully aware of the pedigree of his former club in matches like this.
“To be honest, it is going to be an emotional game for me, knowing that I have played there in Enyimba for a very long time and it’s a club that have a good pedigree when it comes to the continent and even in the NPFL,” Anaemena told npfl.ng.
It will be recalled that the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike has promised N20m reward for players and officials of Rivers United if they beat the Enyimba as well as changing their lives if they win the competition.
The winners of the play-off round will advance to the group stage to join RS Berkane, who advanced directly to the group stage as the winners of the first round with the best CAF five-year ranking following the withdrawal of FC Gazelle of Chad from the competition after being transferred from the Champions League.