By Chigozie Chukwuleta
Expression of disappointment filled the air as Enyimba International FC bow out of the CAF Champions League in front of their home fans with a 0-0 result against visiting Al-Ahly Benghazi.
The People’s Elephant had lost the first leg in Libya 3-4 needing an outright win to ensure passage into the next round.
However, the club’s chairman, Kanu ‘Papilo’ Nwankwo though disappointed chose to go home with what he described as the positives.
In this interview with Newspathfinder after the game, the FIFA Ambassador is confident that the team will come out stronger in other competitions.
Q. I’m sure this is a very disappointing result for you today, your first game at home in Enyimba City.
A. It is, but we have to go home with the positives. If you watched the game you will see that we did create chances, it’s not like they did better than us, they had only one shot at goal. The people of Nigeria supported us. If you look at the stadium you’ll see that it is full, that is a good sign of a good beginning.
Q. It’s your first game and a bad start for some critics. What do you have going forward?
A. When you lose a game of course it is a bad one. But I wouldn’t say it’s a bad start, we want to be there, we want to be in the group stage and do what we have to do. One plus one doesn’t always equal two in football. So if you take the positives like I said you’ll say that yes they did well. If we didn’t play well and we lost, that’s another problem.That’s the point I’ll say that it’s a bad start. Now Kanu cannot carry the ball and put inside the goalpost, sometimes these things happen to the best teams, the best players and that’s football. We have to move on. On what will happen next, of course the boys have to put their heads up and then know that sometimes in life you fall and you stand up. Let’s not discourage them, we need to support and encourage them to do better next time.
Q. What was your word to the players after the game?
A. I told them the crowd was here for them, but some of them went home disappointed. They know they have to do better and doing better is to score. So they have to go back to the drawing board and check their mistakes and see what they can do because next time you may still have teams like this to play against and you have to learn from today.
Q. The coaches again were not on the touchline, how will that change in the future?
A. Definitely we will do what we have to do. We know why they are not there and we have to put it right. The future is bright. The truth is that when I came in it’s not up to two months. You have to meet a lot of things, a lot of people you have you have to strengthen them and pull them in one direction and let them know it’s not business as usual. I believe we’re progressing well.
Q. This is the end of the competition for Enyimba, another competition begins in about two or three weeks, what are you promising Enyimba fans and are there plans for more players to join the club?
A. Definitely for a big club like Enyimba, it’s a must to have more players to execute the three competitions we are into. One has gone. Now we have the league and the African league so, yes we have to do more. We have to get more players to join the ones that we do have. All the same, the sporting director, the coaches and the players themselves have to work harder cause this is not the best start. I believe this will fire them to do more.