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19.02.2005 Football News

Enyimba Play Hearts

By Reuters
Enyimba   Play  Hearts

Enyimba of Nigeria are strong favourites to pick up a second continental trophy in the space of two months when they host Ghana's Hearts of Oak in the African Super Cup on Sunday. The one-off match, to be played at Enyimba's home ground in Aba in eastern Nigeria, pits the winner of last December's African Champions League against the victor of the inaugural African Confederation Cup. Enyimba, who became only the second side to win back-to-back Champions League titles, have only lost at home to continental opposition once before and meet a Hearts of Oak team depleted by the defection of top stars. The Accra-based team, who narrowly edged out compatriots Asante Kotoko in a penalty shootout in the African Confederation Cup, have sold captain Emmanuel Osei Kuffour to Iran and have three other Ghana internationals absent on trials with clubs in Asia and Europe. Louis Agyeman, Bernard Don Bortey and Prince Tagoe will not make it back on time as Hearts management seek to profit from their Cup success. Enyimba, too, have had a major sell out since December's Champions League final, where they beat Etoile Sahel of Tunisia on penalties.
But the side this week picked up a sizeable sponsorship from a Nigerian mobile phone company, and look to have the resources to keep the rest of their talented squad at home for another year. Super Cup teams depleted The annual showdown between Champions League winners and Confederation Cup title holders takes place in Aba, Nigeria on Sunday.
Ghana's Hearts of Oak and hosts Enyimba both go in to the match with new look squads.
The Ghanaian team left Accra on Saturday without strikers Prince Tagoe, Louis Agyemang and Bernard Dong Bortey, who are yet to return from trials abroad.
Striker Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor has joined an Iranian team while defender Dan Quaye is yet to recover from a leg injury.
The Nigerians will be missing the services of African Goalkeeper of the Year Vincent Enyeama, who is looking for a new club.
While last year's captain Obinna Nwaneri, Ugo Opara, Onyekachi Okonkwo, Damian Udeh and Emeka Nwanna have all left to join teams abroad.
"We are focused and fully prepared for Hearts," said Okey Emordi the coach of Enyimba, who was voted the best coach in Africa on Tuesday.
"We won this same game last year and winning it again this year will help the confidence of the new players.
"Even though we have lost many of our players, we have made sure that the new players understand the game plan which has won us the trophies in the past two years."
Hearts coach Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, who has recruited some young players, is cautious about the chances of his team.
"Of course, we expect a difficult game," said the 60-year-old.
"We should have no chance playing against a team that has won two consecutive Champions league titles, and in their own backyard, but you never know in football.
"We have some young, promising players who have not played at this level yet, but they are keen to impress".
"We are confident that we can give a good account of ourselves.
"In football nothing is impossible and we have to live up to our motto of 'Never say die"

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