15th July, 2011
Hosts Enyimba are upbeat about getting off to winning start in their CAF Champions League tie against Al Hilal of Sudan Sunday.
The Nigerian champions are big favourites to kick-start their Group A campaign with a win against a team they thrashed 4-1 the last time they clashed at this stage of the competition three years ago.
The Sudanese giants won the first encounter 3-2 only for â€˜The Peopleâ€™s Elephantâ€™ to outplay in Aba and eventually qualify for the knockout round of the competition.
While Enyimba have missed out on the last two Champions league, Al Hilal reached the last four in 2009 and the following year they crashed out to Ismailia of Egypt in the second round.
The Sudanese champions prepared for this competition in Egypt and former Enyimba star Yusuf Mohammed has boasted they are a better team than their Nigerian rivals.
Enyimba, on their own part, trained in Orlu in Imo State ahead of this fixture.
Former Bayelsa United defender Markson Ojobo has been the late addition to the Champions League squad while head coach Felix Okey Emordi is expecting victory on Sunday.
â€œI donâ€™t expect an easy match against the Sudanese side. I must confess I know little about them, but we are focused on getting the needed result to jumpstart our campaign in this yearâ€™s Champions League,â€ Emordi told MTNFootball.com.
â€œI have a complete team rearing to go without any injury worries. But even if we have some injuries, we are professional enough to manage the situation to get the result we need.â€
Skipper Kenneth Anyanwu, who has been consigned to the reserves on account of the awesome form of Valentine Nwaebili, added: â€œAl Hilal are not new to us and we understand the kind of game they play away from home, so we are very determined to ensure we get a very good win on Sunday.
â€œWe are in great form and our target remains winning the CAF Champions League for a third time and going on to do well at the FIFA Club World Cup.â€
Enyimba have overcome the cash crunch that slowed them down at the start of the Nigeria Premier League late last year.
In May, they won a special match to mark the inauguration of the countryâ€™s President, Goodluck Jonathan, at the expense of last seasonâ€™s runners-up Kano Pillars.
Abia State Governor Theodore Orji rewarded the team with a cash gift of two million naira and promised to ensure their budget was released.
This week, the players received part payment of their signing-on fees as a way of further boosting team morale.