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17 Oct 2008 09:58
Ace striker Stephen Worgu claims Nigerian club Enyimba will stun Egyptian giants al-Ahly in their Cairo fortress on Saturday and qualify for the African Champions League final.
After the clubs played a drab goalless draw on a barely playable Aba pitch two weeks ago, five-time champions al-Ahly became even hotter favourites to win the second leg of the semifinal showdown.
But teenager Worgu, scorer of 13 goals this year for the “People’s Elephant” in the premier African Football Confederation (CAF) club competition, begged to differ.
“The second leg will be more open because al-Ahly know they must attack to win, and I am sure Enyimba will capitalise on that,” said the striker named this week among the top five Africa-based footballers.
And three of the other contenders for a new CAF award come from star-studded al-Ahly—midfielders Mohamed Aboutraika and Ahmed Hassan and Angola-born striker Flavio Amado.
“As usual I believe I will be among the scorers even though I play matches with Enyimba in mind and not myself,” boasted the rising star, linked with a January transfer to the Cairo “Red Devils”.
However, reports from Cairo claim al-Ahly may reconsider their offer for Worgu because of demands that they pay Enyimba a $1,5-million transfer fee and Worgu $1-million a year.
“In the first leg we wanted to win by as many as three goals to make the return match a mere formality, but sometimes a football match does not go the way you want it.
“If you watched the game you would have seen that we did our best, but the goals failed to come.”
Al-Ahly stars have remained silent in the build-up to the floodlit fixture at the 40 000-seat Military Academy Stadium, leaving the talking to long-serving Portuguese coach Manuel Jose and assistant Hossam al-Badry.
“Drawing in Nigeria was a relatively good result, but the least positive one,” warned Jose, casting his mind back to a similar situation last year ahead of the second leg of the final.
Al-Ahly supporters believed a sixth title was in the bag after a goalless draw in Tunisia against Etoile Sahel, but their heroes suffered a stunning 3-1 home loss before a capacity 80 000 crowd at the Cairo Stadium.
“Enyimba are a good team with players who perfectly accomplish their tactical duties,” said Jose, who has been in charge for three of the five al-Ahly African Champions League triumphs.
Al-Badry was more upbeat: “The Enyimba defence has serious weaknesses and we are planning to exploit them. We watched their previous matches, especially the away ones, in order to devise a suitable strategy.”
Enyimba are seeking a first win over al-Ahly after losing 1-0 at home and 2-1 away in the group phase of the 2005 African Champions League, although a score draw in Cairo would take them through on the away-goal rule.
While the Nigerians face an uphill task, 1998 runners-up Dynamos of Zimbabwe have an even tougher task, having lost 1-0 at home to surprise packets Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon.
The “Harare Glamour Boys” will draw strength from shock away victories this year over defending champions Etoile Sahel in Sousse and Ivorian team Asec Mimosas in Abidjan.
“We lost as a team, having failed to take our chances and now we must fight back as a team.
If Cotonsport managed to beat us at home what is stopping us achieving the same feat?” asked Dynamos coach David Mandigora.
What could stop a Dynamos team bolstered by the return from injury of goalkeeper Willard Manyatera and midfielders Justice Majabvi and Wonder Sithole is the outstanding home form of Cotonsport in their northern Garoua base.
Bidding to become the first African Champions League finalists from Cameroon since Canon Yaounde won the 1980 title, Cotonsport won six qualifying and group matches by scoring 14 goals and not conceding even one.—Sapa-AFP
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