Enyimba are set for their last gasp to get a quarter-final ticket as they host Congolese side, CARA in their first ever match on their traditional home match since the beginning of the current edition of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Their last minute goal against Djoliba few days ago put a lifeline on the possibility of the club advancing from the group stage.
Enyimba moved from the third position to the second and are just goal different inferior to the group leaders, CARA.
A win on the traditional home ground will settle the case for Enyimba. Fresh from leading Enyimba to a morale-boosting away win at Djoliba, Coach Usman Abdallah is brimming with confident ahead of the Wednesday crucial Group C Match Day Six fixture.
Abdallah who was named as replacement following the departure of Paul Aigbogun midway into their continental campaign, enthused it would be a great return for the People’s Elephant after playing ‘home away from home’ in nearby Calabar and Port-Harcourt cities.
A former Nigerian youth international, Abdallah holds dual citizenship with France and previously held coaching appointments at French lower division clubs including EPS FC, FC Sete, FC Frontignan and Bollene FC.
Last year, he returned to his native club, Kano Pillars before being priced away by trophy-thirsty Enyimba who are yet to add the Confederation Cup to their impressive collections.
Meanwhile, Abdallah sounded upbeat and below are excerpts from an interview with CAFOnline.com;
CAFOnline.com: How vital is the victory in Bamako against Djoliba to Enyimba’s chances of qualification?
Usman Abdallah: It was satisfactory to get the result you wanted and planned for; and we are happy because it has kept us in good position for the next match at home against CARA Brazzaville.
How do you fancy playing at home (in Aba) for the first time since 2015 against CARA?
It is a positive development for us because it would be better playing at our home grounds in Aba, though it will be the first time for some of the new players in the team. We are not going to be under pressure against CARA especially after the important away victory against Djoliba last week. I’m optimistic of a positive result in Aba.
Enyimba lost away to CARA Brazzaville, how different will the approach be?
We conceded three goals in the opening six minutes in that away match against CARA Brazzaville and thereafter we were able to pluck against some of the mistakes we made in the match. At this stage, we must be able to take any chance that comes our way. We have to avoid taking any unnecessary risk. We will approach the match with the seriousness it deserves and work out a winning strategy just as did against Djoliba.
How are you fitting in your new role following the sudden departure of Paul Aigbogun?
I must say that Enyimba has been a work in progress because I actually started with the team at the beginning of the season whereby we prepared the team together for both the domestic league and the continental competition. There has been no vacuum since the departure of (Paul) Aigbogun rather it has been a continuous process. We started the season together and it is not as if I came to take over after he left. I’m not really under any pressure because I have been managing the team when he was away on national duty with the Flying Eagles (national U-20).
Where else have you worked?
Football has been my profession all of my life. I took to coaching after my professional football career. Before returning to Nigeria, I had been coaching in France because I have a dual nationality. I’m from Kano State in Northern part of Nigeria and I worked with Kano Pillars last year along with coach Kadiri Ikhana; but we succeeded to manage the team along with the youth side when he left. I want to believe the management of Enyimba was impressed with the good job I did at Kano Pillars and that was why they lured me away from Kano to Aba; and I think their plan was to bring have an experienced coach as assistant to Aigbogun because they knew he was not going to be available always.
What is your coaching model?
I don’t narrow my model or philosophy to a particular style. First and foremost, football must be enjoyed and I want my team to play in a way the game should be played. Football is dynamic and the style you adopt is based on the type of players you have and the opponent you are facing. In Nigeria, we are always worried about what a player can do with the ball but football is more than that; what about what the player does without the ball or how does he contribute to the overall success of the team? These are some of the things I look out for; so I will confidently say my philosophy is playing football how it should be played.