By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com-Nigeria
Morocco’s Hassania Agadir are guaranteed top spot in Group D in the CAF Confederation Cup after amassing 11 points from five games, while Ivorian torchbearers San Pedro, on three points, are out of contention. Nigerian giants Enyimba have seven points and Algerian debutants Paradou are on five, with either side in contention for the group’s other ticket.
They are both away on Sunday; Enyimba at San Pedro and Paradou in Agadir. The Nigerians will qualify if they avoid defeat, as a draw will raise their tally to eight points, the maximum Paradou could reach if they emerge winners over Hassania Agadir.
But the head-to-head rule will favour Enyimba in that case. A 1-0 defeat to Paradou in Blida was followed by a 4-1 victory for the former African champions in Aba, meaning they have the aggregate advantage over the Algerians. Paradou will hope for victory over group leaders Agadir coupled with Enyimba defeat in San Pedro to reach the quarterfinals in their maiden continental campaign.
Despite standing no chance of progressing from the group stage, Enyimba head coach Fatai Osho believes CAF Confederation Cup opponents FC San Pedro still have much to play for at the Stade FHB in Abidjan on Sunday.
Osho’s Enyimba are up against group D’s bottom side in their final match of the phase with sight firmly set on picking the group’s second quarter-final ticket.
While the Ivorians are already eliminated from the competition following an indifferent run that has seen them manage just three points from five matches, Enyimba need only a point to confirm progress to the last eight.
Speaking with the club’s media channel before his team’s departure to Abidjan, Osho squashed insinuations that the fixture against the already eliminated Ivorian side will be a mere stroll in the park.
“San Pedro as at now are out of the competition completely and they stand to lose absolutely nothing, and when you’re playing with no pressure on you like that, some teams tend to play better in that situation and that’s why we have to be a bit careful. We have to really bring in our A-game to get the needed result.
“They should not be of an illusion that after all, the San Pedro team is out and they will be an easy picking. It’s not going to be that way. They have their honour to play for and they want to do well in front of their supporters. They’ve not been doing too well at home and I see a situation where they actually want to turn the table.
“Anything short of at least a draw could be so costly for the team (Enyimba), and when you need a draw like that you’ve got to go for a win, but if you actually plan to get a draw you might end up losing it altogether. So the orientation is for the players to go all out for victory, which is the normal thing in football.
“We want our destiny to be in our own hand. We don’t want to start monitoring what is happening (in the group’s other game) in Agadir. If we can get our result in Abidjan, regardless of what happens in Agadir we will be safe, we will be home and dry. And that’s exactly what we need to do and that’s what we are preaching to the players.”
Similarly, Enyimba forward Anayo Iwuala believes San Pedro would be playing for pride on Sunday.
Anayo, who dazzled as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Hassania US Agadir in Aba last Sunday, is however confident that the People’s Elephant will do enough to secure qualification.
“When it comes to football there are times you play for pride. Definitely, we are going to their home and I believe they will come out strong and play for their pride. Nothing at stake for them, that will make them come out more on us, so it’s never going to be an easy game going to Ivory Coast to play San Pedro right now.
“We are fully prepared, hundred percent prepared. We are going there to give all our best. There is nothing at stake (for San Pedro), something at stake also (for Enyimba); qualifying, not qualifying. San Pedro are out and we are going there to give our best.”
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