Enyimba ace Razak Aliyu (left)
Thursday Oct 13, 2016. 13:14
Deposed Nigeria champions Enyimba hope they beat Nasarawa United in Saturday’s Federation Cup semi-final on their way to eventual cup glory to make up for a rather difficult season.
Having edged Rivers United in a largely one-sided quarterfinal, Lafia-based Nasarawa United stand in the way of a sixth Federation Cup final in eight seasons.
"The game is very important to us," Aliyu told the Enyimba website. "Like everyone knows, we did not get a good position in the league and in the Champions League we did not do very well also, so this is our remaining opportunity to go back to the continent.
“Enyimba play on the continent every year, so we have to put in everything to make sure we get to the final and win it."
A place in next year's CAF Confederation Cup awaits the Federation Cup winners and following the club's worst league finish in over a decade, it presents Enyimba's only route to playing international football next season.
Signed from FC Taraba in 2012, 26-year-old midfielder Aliyu described the just concluded League season as disappointing and blamed playing away from the Aba stadium.
"For me, this is a season to forget because we did not do well. But I think it would have been different If we played in Aba. It's not an easy thing - the stadium issue, but we have to take it in good faith, play very hard and get back to the continent through the FA Cup," he said.
The quality of Saturday's opposition is not lost on the lanky midfielder, who believes they are in for a tough game in Ibadan, but assured Enyimba are eager to make it to the final.
"Nasarawa United are not a bad side at all, they are good too. They have good midfielders and strikers. The likes of our former player, Abdulrahman Bashir and Esosa Igbinoba. They have a good team but we have to put in everything to get the result we need,” he said.
“It will be a tough game but in football you have to put in your best if you want to win.
"We want to end the season on a high starting from Saturday. Our eyes are on the final and if we keep our heads up and stay focused, we will be victorious."