A huge test awaits Nigeria Professional Football League side, MFM FC as they play host to Djoliba Athletic Club of Mali in the final qualification round of the CAF Confederations Cup.
This match comes after the Olukoya boys failed to go past Algerian side, MC Alger losing 7-2 on aggregate in their previous CAF Champions League qualifying round; hence demoting the church club to the second tier of continental football.
Djoliba AC are a very experienced team with over a hundred appearances in the CAF CL and CAF CC combined. They also happen to be one of the two biggest club sides in Mali.
ACLSports spoke to MFM FC head coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu ahead of this very difficult game and he said: “I know it’s going to be tough but we are working. We know their weakness and their strength and we will capitalise on their weakness to get what we want.”
“It is very possible and I know we will win.”
Talking about winning, MFM usually win at home so what are you going to do differently this time apart from just winning 1-0 or 2-1? “In our training program today, we worked on scoring more goals and I believe that will work for us.
“I know we need to win. We need to win convincingly with many goals. Hopefully our plan works for us come Sunday, though I know it’s going to be tough but we will win; and we are likely going to win very well. The way I’m seeing the reaction of the players, the way I’m seeing the confidence, the way I’m seeing the love and the tactical approach in our training; I know,” Ilechukwu said authoritatively.
The last time MFM FC defeated a Malian team to progress in the CAF CL qualification round, they played the first leg away. This time around, the reverse is the case and coach Ilechukwu thinks this is a disadvantage.
“It’s a disadvantage because if we played away first, you always understand this is what you need to do to wrap up the tie but the situation on ground now, I’ve told the boys the importance of the games.
“They know it already and what happened in MC Alger will not happen again. If we win convincingly, I believe MFM FC will qualify to the group stage,” he said.
To win convincingly, the Olukoya boys have to bring their ‘A’ game defensively and attacking wise. Talking about the defence and coping with the route one style of play usually employed by Malian teams because of their height, Ilechukwu said: “If we have quality midfielders, their crosses won’t be much. If we keep possession of the ball, they will be looking for the ball and this will reduce the crosses.
“We’ve also worked on our defending, to be the first to attack the crosses. This is very important because we don’t have tall defenders and it is a disadvantage to our defence line but we have advantage in another area,” he added.
Finally on the players who would be trusted with the responsibility of executing his attacking plan, Fidelis Ilechukwu reveals that it won’t be anything different from what we have seen recently. “It’s not different. It’s all about Chijioke Akuneto, Akinyemi, probably Joshua or Chukwudi.”
“These four players are in good shape. Chukwudi and Joshua will join Akinyemi and Akuneto. Any of them can join while we have one person on the bench,” he said.