Enyimba overcame a numerical handicap to edge Rivers United 1-0 in a rain-affected CAF Confederation Cup fixture at the Enyimba Stadium on Sunday evening.
Cyril Olisema scored in the second half to settle the heated contest, halted shortly after kickoff by a heavy downpour in the Eastern Nigeria city.
With only eight minutes played, referee Mehdi Abid Charef decided that play be suspended after evaluating the effect of the downpour on ball movement
Action resumed forty-five minutes later with Imo Obot forcing Theophilus Afelokhai to parry out a long range freekick before the resultant corner was headed narrowly wide by Tosin Omoyele.
United created a chance of their own at the other end, Stephen Gopey and Godwin Aguda seeing their close range efforts cleared away, as the half wound down.
Oladapo again threatened with a long range freekick after the restart, before Sadiq Abubakar tore down the flank only to have his low cross well dealt with.
The defining period arrived just before the hour when Anayo Iwuala held off tackles to set up Olisema who held his nerves to beat Afelokhai at his near post.
Youngster Orok Gabriel came on for Sadiq Abubakar in Fatai Osho’s first switch, but it was not long after that Enyimba were cut to ten men as Tosin Omoyele was sent off for an off ball incident.
Enyimba, however managed their lead, ensuring that they approach the return fixture in a week’s time with a clean sheet.
Coach Fatai Osho said at the end of the match: “It’s not really a bad result bearing in mind the standard of this Rivers United team. They have a formidable team and I believe strongly that after this two-legged affair both teams will gain a lot from this playing in the NPFL”.
The following are results from the first-leg, play-off round of the 2020/21 CAF Confederation Cup, played across Africa this weekend.
The first-named teams hosted the first-leg.
Enyimba, Nigeria 1-0 Rivers United, Nigeria
FC Platinum, Zimbabwe 0-1 ASC Diaraf, Senegal
Raja Casablanca, Morocco 1-0 US Monastir, Tunisia
Nkana, Zambia 2-0 TAS Casablanca, Morocco
Gor Mahia, Kenya 0-1 NAPSA Stars, Zambia
AS Bouenguidi, Gabon 1-0 Salitas, Burkina Faso
Asante Kotoko, Ghana 1-2 ES Sétif, Algeria
Young Buffaloes, Eswatini 1-2 Étoile du Sahel, Tunisia
AS SONIDEP, Niger 0-1 Coton Sport, Cameroon
Al Ahly Benghazi, Libya 1-1 DC Motema Pembe, DR Congo
Stade Malien, Mali 2-1 JS Kabylie, Algeria
RC Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire 0-2 Pyramids, Egypt
Jwaneng Galaxy, Botswana 0-3 Orlando Pirates, South Africa
CS Sfaxien, Tunisia 4-1 AS Kigali, Rwanda
1º de Agosto, Angola vs Namungo, Tanzania – postponed
The second-leg of all the matches will be played on 21 February.
According to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the 15 winners of the play-off round will advance to the group stage to join RS Berkane, who advanced directly to the group stage as the winners of the first round with the best CAF 5-Year Ranking following Gazelle’s withdrawal from the competition after being transferred from the Champions League.
*Enyimba-Rivers United match report from enyimbafc.net