Enyimba International Football Club of Aba on Wednesday pipped Cara Brazzaville of Congo 1-0 in a crucial CAF Confederation Cup group game to qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.
The match played at the newly renovated Enyimba International Stadium in Aba was the Peoples’ Elephant final group game of the cup competition.
Enyimba came into the encounter having picked up the vital three points away from home against Djoliba of Mali on match day five to put them in a favourable position to advance to the next round.
The hosts needed at least a point to progress to the quarter-finals, but three to be sure, depending on the result in the other group game between Williamsville of Ivory Coast and Djoliba.
On their part,the Ivory Coast side knew that a draw away from home would secure their qualification regardless of result elsewhere.
Enyimba had lost the first leg of the same encounter 0-3 away from home and were also wary of the threat posed by their West African rivals.
The first 20 minutes was a ferocious and end-to-end encounter in Aba as both teams went in search for the opener.
However, it was the Peoples’ Elephant who continued to pile pressure on the resolute defence of the visitors in the closing stages of the first half.
Enyimba Captain, Mfon Udoh could have opened scoring in the 33rd minute after he found himself well placed but his effort was easily saved by Goalkeeper Chansel Mohikola.
Udoh was presented with a goal scoring chance yet again in the box just five minutes later but he failed to connect with a looping cross.
It was indeed a gruelling encounter at the end of the first half as Mohikola proved decisive for the Congolese and continued to deny the hosts to keep the score goalless.
The first half ended goalless as the Congolese side maintained their spot on the top of the group, frustrating the efforts of Enyimba who were playing on their home turf for the first time in three years.
The second half was livelier for the hosts but they were still unable to convert any of their chances which created nervy moments as CARA hung on by a thread at the closing stages of the game.
However, just when it seemed like both sides would settle for a draw, Augustine Oladapo had other ideas as he grabbed a late goal in additional time to give Enyimba a well-deserved 1-0 victory.
The win ensured that Enyimba not only qualified for the knock out stages of the competition but also topped Group C with 12 points.
CARA Brazaville also qualified for the knock out stages as the group runners up with nine points, while Williamsville and Djoliba finished third and fourth with eight and five points respectively after playing out a goalless draw.