FC IfeanyiUbah on Sunday defeated Egyptian Club Al Masry 1-0 in the CAF Confederation Cup first round first leg tie played at the FC IfeanyiUbah International Stadium Nnewi.
Man-of-the match Tamen Medrano sealed victory for Anambra Warriors with a shot in the 87th minute inside the area for the deserved win.
The game was the announcement of the arrival of the Champion of Champions on the continental stage as Coach Yaw Preko started with a much familiar side except for the inclusion of Ifeanyi Onuigbo In the Starting 11 for the much anticipated encounter.
It was all FC IfeanyiUbah affair in the first half with skipper and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa largely on holidays. First real chance of the frenetic contest was created in the 5th minute by Ifeanyi Onuigbo who teed an inviting ball into the area off a good build up between Kone and Ngoma however unrushing King Osanga was too late to connect, Onuigbo would create another begging chance 4 minutes later for Prince Aggreh but well positioned Mahmoud Sharafeldin scuttled the effort with a timely clearance.
Sharafeldin bagged the first caution of the encounter from a bad tackle on Prince Aggreh with the resulting freekick poorly executed by Yaya Kone.
Goalkeeper Ahmed Abdelhalim kept his composure as he pulled off two great saves in a space of two minutes to save the Green Eagles’ defenders blushes, first from a Valentine Nwabili’s cross with Onuigbo’s goal bound header punched out for a corner kick and then a Medrano’s cross from a corner kick saw Aggreh’s header punched to safety by the shotstopper.
Al Masry’s first real chance at goal came in the 23rd minute as El Sayed Abdelaal combined well with Ahmed Mousa thereby setting up Ahmed Abdelsalam whose wayward rugby like shot was never going to trouble the holidaying Ikechukwu Ezenwa. Ezenwa opposing number pulled off another magnificent save in the 30th minute from Osanga’s shot to keep the game at bay. Goalkeeper Ahmed Abdelhalim made another save in the 38th minute from Aggreh’s shot after a good footwork from King Osanga. FC IfeanyiUbah Goalkeeper was called into action the first minute of three minutes of added time as he parried Ahmed Abdulraof shot after the fellow nutmegged Elu Wilson for the last half of an entertaining half.
In the second half, Ahmed Gomaa nearly gave the Egyptians the lead from a set piece situation as he nodded inches wide off a freekick. Prince Aggreh’s last act before being substituted almost resulted to a goal with a volleyed effort sailing just over the bar in the 76th minute.
The much anticipated goal which send the home fans into frenzy came in the 87th minute as Tamen Medrano finished off with a good strike from series of passes and display of ingenuity by the Anambra Warriors midfielders.
Reacting to the win, Coach Yaw Preko said the win was well deserved however his team could have done more with more goals.
“It was a hard fought win for us today, the goalkeeper of their team was absolutely on top of his game today making point blank saves. We had to be focused, show belief and work harder, and as you can see we grinded out a deserved win. It’s not yet over, we will be going to a place where the terrain and weather conditions may not be 100 percent suitable for our game but this is football and you just have to deal with it,” Preko told fcifeanyiubah.com.
Skipper of the side, Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa said the return leg in Egypt will be massive but they are fully motivated with the win in Nnewi.
“Victory for us today was borne out of sheer brilliance, patience, resilience and doggedness, we have another battle in a week time and we just have to go there and replicate the form we exhibited today, if we do that with God on our side then we will certainly go through,” Ezenwa told fcifeanyiubah.com.
Chairman of the Club, Chukwuma Ubah said the win was a testimony of the fact that the boys really worked hard on the pitch.
“Firstly, thank God for the win as the Egyptians were really good on the defensive front, We kept our composure going in the game which led to a goal in the dying minutes of the game. A pulsating encounter of this nature requires total concentration and intense work to get the result, that we did today and we hope to replicate this form when we eventually play at the Port Said, ” Ubah told fcifeanyiubah.com.
Dignitaries at the Stadium to witness the encounter were the Executive Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and NFF delegate Otumba James Ajayi.
The Anambra Warriors will take the slender lead into the 2nd leg next Sunday when Al Masry will host the Nigerian Champion of Champions in Port Said.