Gone were the days when Nigeria hopeful Enyimba were one of the most-feared teams on the continent to the same extent that the People’s Elephants were successively crowned continental champions in 2003 and 2004.
The Aba-based side have struggled ever since much more so in the on-going continental cup campaign since they flattered to deceive in the Total CAF Champions League after posting a 5-1 aggregate win over Rahimo FC of Burkina Faso, Enyimba lost 1-0 on aggregate to Al Hilal of Sudan to drop off into the play-off for the Total CAF Confederation Cup.
Though, they did spank South Africa’s second division side TS Galaxy 4-1 on aggregate to secure their berth in the Confederation Cup mini-league group stage, Enyimba have recorded a loss and a win in two matches following that 2-0 away defeat to Hassania Agadir on MatchDay 1 and that hard-fought 1-0 home win against San Pedro on MatchDay 2.
As the mini-league reaches halfway mark on MatchDay 3, three-point Enyimba are second on the log in Group D behind Hassania Agadir of Morocco, who have six points, while Algerian debutants Paradou and San Pedro of Cote d’Ivoire are both in the rear with one point each.
However, Enyimba striker Victor Mbaoma reckons his side must avoid defeat against the ‘Blue and Yellow’ on Sunday in Blida.
“Our expectation against Paradou is to win because if we need to qualify from this group for the quarter finals, we need to win our matches henceforth,” the Enyimba Number 25 said in an interview with CAFOnline.com
“We have lost one and won one of the previous two matches; this is our third match in the group stage and we can’t afford to lose again. We just have to win so that it can enhance our chances of qualifying from this difficult group.”
The 23-year-old forward, recruited from Nigerian top flight side Remo Stars at the start of the season, is regarded as one of his side’s outstanding players this term.
“We have a lot of quality players and I’m really happy because being here has really helped me personally; it has helped me to grow as a person and as a player.”
But this is not Mbaoma’s debut on the continent after his four goals for Akwa United in the Uyo-based side’s ill-fated campaign in the 2018 Total CAF Confederation Cup, where they exited in the penultimate round before the group stage.
“The experience has been very good,” surmise Victor whose surname, Mbaoma, means ‘good man’ in his native Abia State in Eastern Nigeria.
“I’m grateful to be able to play at the continental level again; and it has really helped my game and exposed me as a player.
“My best moment so far in this Total CAF Confederation Cup was scoring against TS Galaxy at home in Aba as well as when we qualified for the group stage.
“In the Nigerian league, it was when I scored twice against Adamawa United because it boosted my confidence to go for the top scorer of the season; and this has really strengthened me,” he said.
Yet for Mbaoma, it’s not a question of how good he is currently but how good he wants to be as he models his fledging career after Portuguese great, Cristiano Ronaldo.
“My footballing hero has always been Cristiano Ronaldo simply because he loves to win and score goals,” Mbaoma said with an unmistakable clarity.
“I always like to watch him and you can see that he’s not always happy when he doesn’t score goals. I try to emulate such a great player because I love to score goals too.”
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