Hafidi gives Raja Casablanca advantage over spineless Enyimba
Abdelilah Hafidi's 48th-minute strike secured a 1-0 away victory for Raja Casablanca against Enyimba in their CAF Confederation Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
Enyimba, who missed a second-half penalty, were spineless in front of their own fans, as they failed to come up with any tactical plan to breakdown a well-organised and experienced Raja team.
The hosts stuck to the team that had secured progression against Rayon Sports in the quarter final, the exception being Nelson Ogbonnaya taking the place of the suspended Isiaka Oladuntoye in the middle of defence, partnering Ifeanyi Anaemena.
Raja surprised the home team with coach Juan Carlos Garrido's decision to leave top scorers Mahmoud Benhalib and Mouhcine Iajour on the bench, but it was a gamble which paid off.
The People's Elephant endured a frustrating start to the game, as they were second best in every department and should have gone behind on the stroke of half-time. However, Badr Benoun inexplicably failed to apply any sort of contact to Baye Ibrahima Niasse's cutback and the opportunity passed them by.
With the heaven's opening during the interval, the playing surface became slippery and made life tricky for both sides in the second-half.
However, Raja duly took advantage of the conditions three minutes after the restart, Hafidi capitalising on Andrew Abalogu's under-hit backward header, unleashing a shot which slipped through the legs of Theophilus Afelokhai.
The goal sparked a response from Enyimba, who brought on Wasiu Alalade in place of the largely ineffective Ibrahim Mustapha in attack.
The switch coincided with Enyimba's best spell, and they were rightly awarded a penalty which was blazed over the bar by Stanley Dimgba in the 66th-minute, after his goal-bound strike was handled by Sand Masaud.
Enyimba risked leaving themselves exposed late on as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but Afelokhai was up to everything the North Africans threw at him.
The Nigerians have left themselves with much to do in the return leg in three weeks at the intimidating 67,000-Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca if they're to turn the tie around.