Former African Champions Enyimba defied heavy downpour and a second half sending off of star striker Tosin Omoyele to beat Rivers United 1-0 in their Total CAF Confederation Cup (Total CAFCC) playoff round first leg clash in Aba on Sunday.
Attacking midfielder Cyril Olisema provided the game’s only goal in the 59th minute when he kept his composure to finish a pass from enterprising winger Anayo Iwuala. It was Olisema’s first goal from open play in almost a year.
The game decided at the Enyimba Stadium, Aba started in an uncertain note after a torrential rainfall started just about fifteen minutes to kick off, rendering many parts of the pitch water logged.
Algerian referee Mehdi Abid Charef then called off the game albeit temporarily in the ninth minute of play after the pitch became virtually impassable. Both teams had endured a torrid opening minutes in the game before the stoppage.
The experienced match arbiter then okayed the game to restart some thirty minutes later but the first half ended 0-0, with Rivers United’s Godwin Aguda going closest to score but was denied from point blank range by Enyimba goalkeeper John Noble.
Enyimba captain Austin Oladapo twice stung the palms of his former teammate Theophilus Afelokhai, now playing for Rivers United with some long range free kicks but the People’s Elephant had to wait till the hour mark before taking the lead.
The goal came after a moment of sheer brilliance by Iwuala who spurned the challenge of up to three United players before putting Olisema clean through on goal. Olisema finished expertly beyond Afelokhai despite United players asking for the offside flag, television replays showed that he was kept onside by left back Bakary Bamba.
Enyimba were however reduced to ten men fifteen minutes from time when Omoyele lashed out at Rivers United centre back Fabian Nworie after the former had denied him a brilliant scoring opportunity.
Fatai Osho’s men however held on to their solitary lead to take a slender advantage into the second leg game billed for the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt next Sunday.