October, 29 2023.
Like the proverbial chicken, reigning Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) champions, Enyimba of Aba are back home to roost after their calamitous outing in the inaugural edition of the CAF organized and FIFA inspired African Football League (AFL).
The side was the only one of the eight teams that were roundly and thoroughly beaten, by conceeding four times against Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, over the two quarterfinal legs, without a reply.
Reviewing Enyimba's elimination and how his side fared in the games head coach Finidi George had this to say; "we played better in Aba, had a couple of chances and half chances; that we couldn't take. Had we been able to do so, we would have been better motivated for the second leg".
George, a Super Eagles of Nigeria legend added that, "conceding as early as the fourth minute made things worse, and we knew coming back from 0-2 down was a heculean task. But having let I'm two more goals in the first half, we emerged from the break better and managed to keep their attacking forays in check... Finally we were delth a soccer punch, and the inherent lessons are both enormous and compelling".
Finidi who won the Uefa champions league (UCL) with Ajax Amsterdam in 1995 blamed among other things, the lack of academies to nurture youth and academy players, the prevalence of inexperience of his chargers in playing at such a big stage, and too many aging players in his side.
While Finidi and his men lick their wounds, the big four clubs that moved to the semifinals of the dollar spinning novel competition; are locked in the first leg of the semifinals, in Casablanca and Johannesburg today.
Waydad Athletic Casablanca will host Maghreb rivals, Tunisia's Esperance Sportiff du Tunis, at the Mohammed V Stadium; while reigning African Champions, Al Ahly SC of Egypt will clash with South Africa PSL kings, Mamelodi Sundowns at the Loftus Vestfield Stadium.
All four semifinalists are guaranteed a whopping purse of USD 1.7 million, and making it to the final means they will earn much more with the beaten finalist to earn USD 3 million, whilst the Ultimate winner gets USD 4 million.
www.ckdmedia.ng reports that the African Football League is conceived as a tournament to showcase the very best of African elite club football and it has surely not failed to deliver the goods.