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Enyimba 0-1 Raja Casablanca: Key talking points

Enyimba's CAF Confederation Cup progression hangs in the balance after they suffered a 1-0 home defeat by Raja Casablanca in their semi-final first leg, an outcome which leaves the People's Elephant on the back foot ahead of the return fixture in Casablanca.

What were the key talking points to emerge from the two-time CAF Champions League winners' first home loss in continental competition this term?

Abdallah tactically exposed: Enyimba's progression in this season's CAF Confederation Cup had largely been dependent on determination, individual brilliance and fortune, and they rarely cut the image of a tactically drilled side.

Coach Usman Abdallah had perhaps taken his side's progression for granted, and failed to properly do his homework on Raja, the first North African team Enyimba faced in the competition.

Abdallah's continued insistence on a 4-4-2 formation, without any provision for creativity through the middle, and the deployment of two gangling and hardworking forwards let to an ineffective display.

Ibrahim Mustapha and Sunday Adetunji posed little threat with their footwork, and they were wholly unable to test the visiting defence.

The midfield pair of Austin Oladapo and Dare Ojo - two holding midfielders - failed to provide penetrative passes to the full-backs and wingers, which ultimately led to both Adetunji and Mustapha lacking service.

Perhaps if Abdallah had been a little more flexible, entrusted Stanley Dimgba with a free role through the middle and included the direct Freedom Omofoman taking up a wide position alongside Joseph Osadiaye, Enyimba could have created more goalscoring opportunities.

Enyimba lack a natural goalscorer: Matches at this stage of the competition are often decided by strikers with killer instincts, who convert from half chances and occupy the opposition defenders with their intelligent movement and impressive strength.

Unfortunately, Enyimba lacked any such game-changer on Wednesday, as Adetunji failed to show enough desire to connect with Dimgba's cross, on the rare occasion the Raja defence was caught napping.

The team might look back and regret the absence of a natural goalscorer, a decision which hopefully should lead to a recall for Mfon Udoh ahead of the return fixture.

The captain possesses the finesse and experience required to trouble the Raja defence and, if anyone can turn this tie around, it's him.

The North African hurdle: Enyimba are on the verge of a third successive semi-final exit at the hands of North African opposition after their latest loss.

It's a sharp contrast to the glory days which saw them eliminate both USM Alger (2003) and Esperance (2004) at same stage, en route to two Champions League titles.

However, their fortunes have turned since.

The People's Elephant were dumped out of the 2008 CAF Champions League by Al-Ahly, 1-0 on aggregate, after playing out a goalless encounter in the first leg in Aba, before losing by a solitary goal in Cairo.

The same scenario played out three years later in same competition, with a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

Defeat against Raja was the first time Enyimba would lose at home to any North African team in the semi final of a CAF club competition, and they'll need to upset the odds to progress.

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