The two-time African champions are one of the big favourites for the title this campaign, but a significant improvement on the performance away from home is needed for that dream to become a reality
Enyimba International FC in Setif on Sunday fell to their second consecutive away defeat in the CAF Confederations Cup to leave the race for qualification from Group A open to all comers.
The People’s Elephants delivered another lame display away from home and were thrashed 3-0 without mercy at Es Setif, breathing life back into the dwindling qualification hopes of the Black Eagles.
Facing the same team they outclassed 2-1 in Aba just over a week ago, Fatai Osho’s men showed little grit and gut as first-half goals from Amir Karaoui, Mohamed Amoura and a penalty from Akram Djahnit after the break secured a comprehensive win for the host.
It could have gotten even worse for the NPFL giants had another Djahnit effort not been ruled out by the referee for an infringement.
Despite the defeat, Enyimba stay second in Group A with six points, one fewer than South Africa’s Orlando Pirates.
For Algeria’s ES Setif, they are now levelled with Sudan’s Al Ahli Benghazi on four points and are assured of qualification to the next round should they win their last two games.
Meanwhile, if other results go their way, Enyimba could seal their spot in the knockout stages by grabbing all the three points at stake when they travel to Al Ahli Benghazi.
But on the back of their two performances on foreign soil in Group A, Enyimba can no longer be seen as one of the favourites for this year’s CAF Confederations Cup.
Personnel wise, a team boasting the Super Eagles quartet of Anayo Iwuala, John Noble, Austin Oladapo, and Victor Mbaoma, and the fantastic talents of Cyril Olisema and Tosin Omoyele, is equipped enough to overcome the rigours of continental matches.
And true to reputation, the two-time African champions have only lost once at home (to Raja Casablanca) in the last four years, either in the CAF Champions League or the Confederations Cup.
But a different and ugly picture is painted when the Elephants’ away record is placed under scrutiny. Enyimba have won just four in 15 Confederation Cup and only once in ten Champions League matches.
It is noteworthy that a solid home and away form has always been a prerequisite for any team aiming to lift any of these two trophies.
Reigning CAFCC champions RS Berkane lost just one away game throughout 2020 en route to lifting the title, while CAFCL winners Al Ahly went undefeated on foreign soil on their way to glory.
Enyimba will meet tougher oppositions than ES Setif in the latter stages of this year’s competition, especially with the likes of Cotton Sport, CS Sfaxien, and Raja Casablanca waxing strong.
A winning formula away from the Enyimba Stadium will have to be put in place should the People’s Elephants desire to make it to the Confederations Cup final and even win it.