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Dismal Enyimba’s African Season Ends With Loss to Morocco’s Wydad


A woeful international season for Nigerian club Enyimba ended on Thursday with a 3-0 hiding at Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the inaugural African Football League (AFL).

Defenders Ayoub el Amloud, Jamal Harkass and Yahia Attiyat Allah scored before half-time as Wydad completed a 4-0 overall triumph having won the quarter-final first leg 1-0 last Sunday, AFP reported .

Enyimba, the only Nigerian team to win the CAF Champions League, had high hopes of making an impact this season with former stars Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George in key positions.

Kanu is the chairman and George the coach of a club based in the southeastern city of Aba and popularly known as the Peoples Elephant.

But despite the guidance of the ex-Arsenal and Ajax Amsterdam stars, Enyimba suffered a shock 4-3 aggregate loss to Al Ahly Benghazi of Libya in a Champions League preliminary tie.

Given a chance of redemption in the AFL, Enyimba flopped again as they rarely threatened to score at home to Wydad, and were outplayed in the return match.

The last thing Enyimba could afford was to concede an early goal in Casablanca, and that is what happened.

Wydad captain Yahya Jabrane nodded a cross into the path of El Amloud, who poked the ball past Enyimba goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo in the fourth minute.

When captain Ojo parried a Harkass header on 38 minutes, the Moroccan reacted fastest to strike the rebound into the net.

Attiyat Allah, who helped Morocco become the first World Cup semi-finalists from Africa in Qatar last December, struck on 43 minutes with a fierce close-range shot.

Wydad toyed with Enyimba in the second half without scoring again, partly due to several superb saves from Ojo.

In the semi-finals, Wydad will face Esperance of Tunisia, who overturned a 1-0 first-leg defeat by TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo with a 3-0 victory in Rades.

Mazembe kept Esperance at bay until the final minute of the opening half when a looping Oussama Bouguerra header off a corner beat goalkeeper Baggio Siadi.

Unmarked Bouguerra netted again on 76 minutes, hitting a pass inside the six-yard box with such power that while Siadi touched the ball he could not prevent it entering the net.

Backed by a passionate crowd that filled much of the 60,000-seat national stadium, Esperance scored again on 86 minutes through a Mohamed Tougai header after a free-kick.

The AFL bears little resemblance to the original concept with changes to the name, number of competitors and prize money.

Originally called the CAF Africa Super League, the name was altered amid concerns that the competition might be linked to the failed 2021 attempt to form a super league in Europe.

Limited sponsorship meant the number of entrants was cut from 24 to eight and first prize reduced from $11.5 million to four million.

Source: Aawsat

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