Enyimba’s hopes of progressing to the group phase of the CAF Champions League has met a setback following a 3-0 loss to Al Merrikh in their first-round first leg fixture at the Al Hilal Stadium in Omdurman on Wednesday evening.
Saifeldin Malik scored a hit track as the Sudanese put up an unfanciful but effective display to outwit the Nigerian side.
It took little time to show what was to come as Malik picked a long ball in the sixth minute before pushing through his markers to smash past debutante goalkeeper, Bassa Djeri, for the opener.
Enyimba controlled proceedings afterwards, combining nicely in their buildups, with Sadiq Abubakar causing problems on the right. The Nigerians were, however, limited to half chances as Samson Obi headed over the top, before Dayo Ojo shot wide from outside the box.
But despite their dominance, Enyimba were further pegged down before the break, Malik scoring again in similar fashion. The bulky number nine capitalised on a long ball as the hosts turned defence to attack, and shot into the far post.
Abiodun Adebayo and Tosin Omoyele came on after the restart, with the latter showing promise with his positioning and movements, but Fatai Osho’s men were dealt another blow right at the death when Malik registered his hat trick with a predatory header inside the box.
The result leaves Enyimba with the difficult task of overturning a wide deficit in the return fixture scheduled for a fortnight at the Enyimba Stadium.