Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hillal (3) x Enyimba (2) - Part I

Hillal off to a good but difficult start

Hillal (of Sudan) won their first quarter-final Group duel of the African Champions League
2008 (Friday July 18th), against a formidable Enyimba United of Nigeria . After lagging 0-1 and being held at 2-2, earlier in the game, Hillal's recent Nigerian addition - Ifeanyi Onigbo (AKA "Iviani") headed the winning goal for Hillal in the dying minutes of the game. This thrilling finale set ablaze the stands at Hillal's home ground. 30 thousands fans packed the "blue bastion" homestead in Omdurman, where Hillal have had an unbeaten record streak of 108 home-games!

What would an African bout be without refereeing disputes?
In my view the refereeing was fair and balanced, although the Nigerian press feels that the penalty awarded byEgyptioan referee Aouda was a stretch (hear Enyimba's Agwu explain to BBC Sport in this broadcast). Hillal's young new striker Ahmed Adil was tackled down inside the 6 yard box and about to score.

Good high-pressure thriller overall
Both jteams put on a good show. Enyimba's first goal and Hillal's second were masterful. It was also evident that two seasoned and vicious coaches were taking each other on - maxing out on substitutions to respond to the evolution of the game and each other's strategies. Enyimba finished the game with 10 players after Stephhen Worgu took down a Hillal player, on his way to goal in the 62nd minute, to receive his booking (red card).

Here comes "Iviani"

If there were something to write home about in this game, it was Iviani's stellar performance. He was brought in to replace Hamoda Basheer before the kickoff of the second half. Iviani effervesced in midfield and took brave shots at goal - stirring things up a little and lifting morale. Minutes before heading in the winning goal, Enyimba's goalkeeper caught an equally sudden header by the #30. From fancy footwork and dribbling antics to his shirt-off celebration of the winning goal, Iviani was the most exciting player in this game! Welcome home Iviani!

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