Enyimba’s hope of playing in the group stage of the Confederation Cup now hangs on African Football ruling body, CAF, who is expected to decide the fate of the Nigerian team in the competition.
Enyimba were expected to meet Al Ittihad of Libya in the second leg of the tie yesterday in Benghazi, but the Nigerian team did not make the game, pleading force majeur. But Al Ittihad, yesterday, performed the walk over the routine in Benghazi, claiming that Enyimba have lost interest in the match. And Enyimba has disputed that claim.
So, it is now left for CAF to decide Enyimba’s fate in this year’s competition.
The game against the Libyan side has been troubled by scheduling and venue issues with the first leg, earlier scheduled to hold in Tunisia, postponed when Enyimba were not allowed to enter the North African country through Morocco when they could not produce their COVID-19 certificates.
Enyimba duly hosted the second leg in Aba and won 2-0, but according to CAF, they were expected to play the second leg of the tie yesterday, which they could not honour due to logistics problems.
Now, the Libyans have started celebrating a walkover and qualification for the group stage of the competition, claiming that Enyimba has conceded the match to them.
This, Enyimba is disputing. In fact, the Aba team still believe that CAF will reschedule the game on neutral ground to give them time to make the necessary preparations.
The Guardian learnt that CAF’s disciplinary committee has scheduled a meeting via zoom to rule on whether to award the tie to Al Ittihad or reschedule the match to December 31 as requested by Enyimba.
Yesterday, Libyan Observer reported that Enyimba have chosen to withdraw from the game instead of playing the second leg yesterday at the Benina Martyrs Stadium in Benghazi.
Quoting Deputy Secretary-General of the Libyan Football Federation (LFF), Mohamed Qremida, the report said Enyimba had notified CAF that “it would not be able to play Sunday’s match, and thus Ittihad will qualify directly for the group stage, which draws will take place next week.”
The report said CAF, last Thursday, rejected Enyimba’s request to cancel the match, play it on another ground than Libya, or postpone it to a later date.
“Having rejected its request by CAF, Enyimba team sent another request to Ittihad to postpone the match to 31st of December, saying that 48 hours is not enough to arrange travelling procedures, including visas and airline tickets.
“However, Ittihad has also rejected the Nigerian request and said there would be no postponement of the match.”