Nigerian side Enyimba on Sunday held their hosts Rayon Sports of Rwanda to a 0-0 draw in their 2018 CAF Confederation Cup first leg quarter final game decided at the Stade Regional Nyamirambo in Kigali.
Despite enjoying the better of ball possession in the opening minutes, Rayon Sports almost conceded just before the quarter hour mark when Enyimba defender Ifeanyi Anaemena met Joseph Osadiaye’s corner with a diving header but his effort was cleared off the line.
The hosts then asked questions of their own but met a brickwall in Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai who had earlier spoken of his desire to extend his clean sheet streak with the People’s Elephant. Midfielder Kevin Muhire fired an effort over in the 24th minute before Afelokhai brilliantly saved a header by Bonfilscaleb Bimenyima two minutes later.
Enyimba had glorious opportunities to open scoring early in the second half but a combination of profligacy and good saves by Rayon goalkeeper Abouba Bashunga kept the game scoreless.
Striker Sunday Adetunji fired over after Bashunga spilled Ibrahim Mustapha’s cross three minutes after the break before the latter could only hit the side netting after a good team move two minutes later. Enyimba’s Joseph Osadiaye also saw a freekick expertly tipped away by Bashunga before the hour mark.
While Enyimba seemed to have exhausted their opportunities, Rayon Sports seized the initiative and almost punished the former African champions but for Afelokhai who stood tall in the midst of all. The former Kano Pillars goalkeeper superbly tipped away Prosper Donkor’s 20 yards effort destined for the bottom corner before denying Bimenyima from point blank range fifteen minutes from time.
Enyimba held on for the stalemate and will now attempt to seal the tie when both teams meet at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba, South Eastern Nigeria next Sunday.
Winners of the tie will most likely face Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca in the semifinal after the North African secured a 2-1 away win at CARA Brazaville on Sunday.
Rayon Sports starting XI v Enyimba: Bashunga – Nyandwi, Ange, Abdul, Mugabo – Kevin, Niyonzima, Donkor, Rutanga – Bimenyimana, Djabel. Formation: 4-4-2.
Enyimba starting XI: Afelokhai – Abalogu, Anaemena, Oladuntoye, Ikouwem, – Ojo, Austine – Osadiaye, Adetunji, Alalade – Mustapha.