Boniface Haba came off the bench to score a vital equalizer as Guinean giants Horoya held Nigeria’s Enyimba to a 1-1 draw in Aba on Sunday.
Augustine Oladapo had given the home side a first half lead with his third goal of the tournament, but Haba struck back with 20 minutes left for a significant away goal.
In a tightly contested tie, the opening minutes didn’t give much of attacking flair until the 18th when the home side broke the deadlock.
Off a quickly started freekick, Enyimba found the Horoya backline off guard with Oladapo taking one touch to set himself up before firing a vicious left foot strike.
Horoya had chances to draw back level with Alseny Camara coming close with a well taken curling effort from the left which evaded the target by inches.
Aristide Bance lined up next for a chance when he was sent through on goal from the edge of the area but his shot didn’t gather enough sting as it rolled straight to keeper Theophilus Aphelokhai’s waiting arms.
Ghanaian Atta Agyei then did well to find space on the right before cutting back to Morlaye Sylla but his rasping shot was blocked by the defense.
At the stroke of halftime, Enyimba should have doubled their tally when they won a freekick at the edge of the box from good scoring range, but Victor Mbaoma sent the effort straight into the wall.
In the second half, Horoya started off with making changes 10 minutes in, Haba coming on for Bance while Sekou Camara limped off injured and was replaced by Tafadzwa Kutinyu.
The new legs added some firepower for Horoya and they drew level in the 70th minute when Haba beautifully bounced in a header into the bottom left after a pin point cross from Boubacar Samassekou on the right.
The goal lifted Horoya’s spirits but they could not make that count into goals as their decision making failed them in the final third.
At the death, Enyimba would have grabbed the win, but Victor Mbaoma’s execution of a cross inside the box was awry, his attempt at bouncing a volley into the net not being effective as it was cleared away.
Heading into the return tie in Conakry next weekend, Horoya head back home with an away goal advantage and will hope to use it to claim a slot in the semi-finals.