Nigerian representatives in the African Football League (AFL), Enyimba, missed their trip to Casablanca for their second-leg clash with Wydad.
Enyimba, like other Nigerian teams, have always struggled when they travel to North Africa – on and off the pitch.
Many believe it is a tactic from the hosts to frustrate the Nigerian Champions before the two teams meet in Wednesday’s second-leg clash.
We saw this coming!!
The Enyimba FC Contingent didn’t make the trip to Casablanca as earlier scheduled after the Moroccan Authorities failed to give authorization to land for a chattered aircraft from the airport in lagos .
The return leg is tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/Y6RN1oCerV
— Festus Dada (@festusdada1) October 24, 2023
Why Enyimba have not travelled to Casablanca?
Moroccan authorities are allegedly using unfair tactics against Enyimba FC ahead of the side’s clash with Wydad Casablanca in the AFL.
The media manager of Enyimba FC, David Orji, made this assertion in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.
Enyimba were supposed to have landed in the early hours of Tuesday ahead of the game on Wednesday.
However, as of past midnight on Monday, 23 October, Enyimba’s travelling contingent were still stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos as Moroccan officials failed to give authorization to the team’s chartered aircraft from the international wing of the airport to land in Casablanca.
”The Enyimba FC Contingent didn’t make the trip to Casablanca as earlier scheduled after the Moroccan Authorities failed to issue a landed permit for a chattered aircraft from the Muritala Mohammed International Airport,” a post on the Enyimba FC verified Facebook page read.
”As at 00.30AM, the team has returned back to a hotel having spent 6 hours and 30 mins in the Chattered aircraft awaiting landing permit from the Moroccan Authorities for it to take off.
A clinical and composed display by Wydad AC ensured they took home an important 1-0 away victory over Enyimba in the first leg of the African Football League played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Sunday.
Yahya Jabrane scored the game’s only goal from the spot.
The hierarchy of the Enyimba is of the opinion that it is a deliberate plot by the Moroccan authorities and Wydad AC to frustrate the Nigerian champions from having a smooth sail into the North African country. The NPFL champions have since expressed their displeasure with the incident.
Meanwhile, Enyimba and Nigeria Football Federation officials have officially lodged complaints with the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
This latest development has put the second leg in serious doubt or Finidi George’s side might have to arrive just a few hours before the game.
What could happen to Finidi George and Enyimba?
Enyimba’s work has now been made difficult by virtue of the delay. Finidi George’s men may not get the chance to train before the game on Wednesday.
In 2022, Enyimba were also stranded during a trip to North Africa for a CAF Confederation Cup game as they had to sleep in the airport. Just a year later, the same issue has happened again in the continent’s biggest competition.
Regardless of the state of things, it is believed that the issue will be resolved and the Nigerian champions will most likely make the trip down to Casablanca. Failure to get that, Wydad will most likely progress at the expense of Enyimba.
CAF reschedules Wydad vs Enyimba clash
Following the Nigerian side's inability to travel to Casablanca, Morocco in the early hours of Tuesday, Enyimba have now received some respite ahead of their second clash with Wydad in the AFL.
The second leg fixture, which was scheduled to be played on Wednesday, 25 October, has now been shifted to Thursday, 26 October.
The Confederation of African Football has announced a new date for the 2nd leg of the match involving Morrocan giant Wydad Casablanca and Nigeria league champions Enyimba FC at the ongoing African Football League.
Wydad Athletic Club vs. Enyimba FC… pic.twitter.com/GbvimJ2wmq
— Enyimba FC (@EnyimbaFC) October 24, 2023
This is to allow Finidi George's side ample time to acclimatize with the weather conditions before they take to the pitch for the final episode of their quarterfinal clash at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca.
The kick-off time remains 7PM.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago