By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com-Nigeria
Enyimba midfielder Dayo Ojo has said a Cup final doesn’t come bigger than his side’s Total CAF Confederation Cup crucial penultimate clash against Hassania Agadir on Sunday at the Aba International Stadium.
The 25-year-old midfielder, who reached the semi-finals of the second-tier continental competition with Sunshine Stars in 2011, has been one of the mainstays in the People’s Elephant campaign this term and reckons anything short than a demanding African final mentality against the Moroccan visitors would spell doom for their aspirations.
Incidentally, the Moroccans are in pole position in Group B with ten points from their last four matches while Enyimba are second with six points, but Ojo said Sunday’s encounter is a must-win for his side in order to consolidate their position on the table towards qualification for the quarter finals.
“We all know the importance of this upcoming match against Hassania Agadir in Aba,” Ojo told CAF Media.
“Sunday’s match against Hassania Agadir is like a Cup final for us because we need a very good result to help us through to the quarterfinals; as such we have to fight our way through. Hassania is not a small team and the fact that they beat us the last time we met in the group would give us the extra motivation to go against them.”
Enyimba, two-time African Champions (2003 & 2004), have struggled to impress in recent times and have conceded defeats twice away to Hassania Agadir (2-0) and Paradou AC (1-0) while they claimed victory at home against San Pedro (1-0) and a 4-1 thrashing of Paradou AC.
Now under interim coach Fatai Osho who took over from Usman Abdallah, who parted ways on the back of some insipid (lackluster) results on both the continent and Nigerian soccer scene, Ojo said the Nigerian flagbearers would be up and running.
“Come Sunday, we know what to expect from Hassania. North African teams are usually fast and tricky but we shall be ready to counter them,“ assured Ojo.
“They defeated us 2-0 when we played against them in Agadir with the climate affecting us. But we shouldn’t have any reason to complain on Sunday. We just need to work extra hard and be vigilant so that we can get the maximum points that will enhance our position on the log.”
Ojo has been involved in five matches so far but he explained Enyimba have strength in depth to battle their way through this group stage, adding that the whole of the People’s Elephant is greater than the sum of its parts.
“We have so many good players here and honestly, you can’t say this particular player or that player would be the joker for the team,” he assured. “This is not a team that depends on one or two players because we have so many players that can rise to the occasion when the chips are down; and I’m sure we would all be ready against Hassania on Sunday.”
“I’m here on a mission too; this is my first season with Enyimba and I will be happy to be part of the team that will help them win this particular CAF Confederation Cup which they have not won before. I want to win titles because this is one of the best platforms to achieve such dreams and I hope I can realise such dreams in my first season here.
Ojo, who missed the 2-0 away loss to Hassania on Match Day 1, said he personally has a score to settle with the Moroccans after being part of Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles that lost 4-0 to host Morocco in the final match of the 2018 edition of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN).
“Every match is an opportunity to learn new things and I can’t forget how the Moroccans beat us in the CHAN final in 2018,” he said.
“I always like to play back and review past matches and I would be sharing so much with my teammates because Moroccans are fast with the ball but we are going to do our best to curtail them in Aba on Sunday,” noted Ojo.
Equally, coach Osho has also weighed-in on the readiness of his wards, saying all hands are on deck to ensure victory on Sunday: “They (players) have not allowed anything to weigh them down. The attitude in training has been good, and if we continue for the next two days, we’ll be ready (against Hassania Agadir).”
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