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Enyimba’s Coach Usman Abdallah is already looking beyond the club’s success at the concluded Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Championship Playoff as he confidently declared that the players can compete favourably on the continent in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League later in the year.

Enyimba on Wednesday night clinched their eight league title after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Akwa United in the second fixture of the last Matchday of the 2019 playoff at the Agege Stadium. Five other teams that finished in the top three of the regular NPFL season participated in the Playoff. The clubs are Kano Pillars, Rangers International, Akwa United, Lobi Stars and FC IfeanyiUbah. The Aba Elephants finished tops in the round rubbing mini league format with 12 points after losing once to Kano Pillars, that finished in second place after picking 11 points to join Enyimba as Nigeria’s second representative in the CAF Champions League. Rangers International grabbed the CAF Confederations ticket following their third place finish. 

Abdallah had always maintained that the Playoff was different from the home and away fixtures and the club’s performance at the playoff proved him right as Enyimba won four of their five games. At the regular post match conferences during the playoff and especially on the day Enyimba were beaten 2-0 by Kano Pillars, Abdallah insisted that “we are still in contention for the title though it seems not to be in our hands to determine anymore’. But the 1-1 draw between Pillars and Rangers on MatchDay 4 changed the dynamics and handed Enyimba the power to determine their fate as they flogged Lobi Stars 2-1 to mount the leadership.

Asked if he considers his squad a balanced side that can win the CAF Champions League, Abdallah responded, “this players worked hard to achieve this result and I have every confidence that with a lot more hard work, they can compete well on the continent”.

He would not be drawn into comparing the present squad with the previous squads that won the CAF Champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004 but explained that, “every team comes with their own potentials and strengths. There are no two squads that can be same and alike but what I know is that the players we have here are dedicated and hardworking. Yes, we are not ruling out scouting for some other players to add to the strength of the squad”.


It was the Coach’s second season at Enyimba having to inherit the side from Paul Aigbogun. The soft spoken coach said the title win is a fulfilment of his ambition to bring something to Enyimba. 

“We should look at the win in the context of the entire team including the supporters who have stood by us. On personal note, I feel fulfilled that I am able to add to the laurels of Enyimba and it is a personal attainment for me”, remarked Abdallah who confided in a club staff that he would wish to join his family and savour the moments if he could enjoy that luxury.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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