Saturday, February 08, 2014

Enyimba face greenhorns in ACL

Source: League Management Company
Two-time African Champions League winners, Enyimba, will get their campaign on the continent underway in Aba when they play hosts to Togolese champions, Anges de Notse, this Sunday.

Enyimba return to Africa's premier club competition for the first time since 2011 when they were knocked out in the semifinals by Moroccan side, Wydad Casablanca.

But the People's Elephant, Caf Champions League winners in 2003 and 2004, face a tricky prospect in the Angels of Notse whom Enyimba head coach, Zachary Baraje, describes as "unknown."

"It's a big game for us and we need to start well and win big because they are unknown to us. I know they now have a Belgian coach and I've seen a few video of their games but that isn't enough as we will have to be at our best," said Baraje, who joined Enyimba from El-Kanemi Warriors in January.

Interestingly, the Belgian coach who Zachary refers to is Jean-Francois Losciuto, who holds a Uefa licence and was assistant to Sunday Oliseh at Belgian club, RCS Vervietois.

There is also a Nigerian touch to the Anges de Notse team as Losciuto will be assisted by former Nigeria-born Togo striker, Adekambi Olufade, who holds a Uefa B licence.

As part of their build-up for the first leg of the Caf Champions League preliminary round clash with Enyimba in Aba this Sunday, The Angels played Semassi, Etecon CF and took part in a four-team tournament in Gabon last month.

The trip of The Angels to Aba was further boosted by a budget of 5 million CFA Francs (around N1.7 million) from the Togo government as well as the recent visit of the country's sports minister, Angele Agu-Dzake to the team.

On the other hand, Enyimba go into Sunday's game on the back of emerging champions of the Glo Premier League Pre-season Tournament in Abuja where they took Nigerian champions, Kano Pillars, Warri Wolves and Bayelsa United to the cleaners.

Though Anges de Notse come with an unknown package, Baraje said his men know how important the Champions League is to their 2013/14 campaign.

"My players and everyone here (in Aba) know that the Champions League is very important to us this season. So we can't afford to let ourselves down first and then the fans," said Baraje to

In spite of threading cautiously, Baraje has got enough quality in his squad to see off The Angels from the modest town of Notse, which is home to the Ewe people.

Abdulrahman Bashir, Chinedu Udoji, Ifeanyi Ede, Sibi Gwar, Rasheed Olabiyi, Mfon Udoh, Zakka Bala, Andrew Abalogu and Kingsley Sokari are among those Baraje will rely on to beat off any chance of an upset from the Togolese champions.

The return leg of the clash between Enyimba and Anges de Notse will hold in Lome on February 16.

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