Enyimba exited the 2017 NPFL Invitational following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the CHAN Eagles on Friday in Kano.
The Salisu Yusuf-led side were on top for large swathes of the game, and made good on their dominance with a cracking finish by Sunday Faleye 10 minutes after the break.
Coach Paul Aigbogun came into the game with the knowledge that any score draw would be enough to secure passage to the final.
He made two changes to the side that drew against Plateau United in the opening game; one of them enforced, as Austin Oladapo lined up on the opposing side for this encounter.
After a promising Stanley Dimgba run which led to a shot dragged wide, the CHAN team quickly seized control of proceedings. Faleye was at the heart of much of their play, firing over the top after playing a one-two with Dayo Ojo.
Emeka Ogbugh had a huge chance to open the scoring after a quarter of an hour when he caught the Enyimba defence flat-footed, but his finish struck the foot of the post with Fatau Dauda beaten.
Dimgba, who was lively throughout, gave the officials something to think about when he went down in the box, but the referee was unmoved. From the resulting counter, Dayo Ojo pulled his effort narrowly wide.
The second period began more evenly, and indeed the People’s Elephant came close to going ahead. A sliding clearance by Stephen Eze flicked up into the path of the onrushing Dimgba, but his header landed on the roof of the net with the goal gaping.
The missed opportunity would prove costly though, as Faleye received a chipped pass over the top of the defence, and hit a true volley past Dauda and high into the net.
The seven-time league champions turned to the bench for solutions, and it was two substitutes who came closest to leveling matters: Ernest Governor heading over from a corner, and Freedom Omofoman drawing a splendid save at the back post from Eagles’ goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye.
It was not to be though, as the CHAN team held on for the win and a place in Sunday’s final.
ENYIMBA STARTING XI: Fatau Dauda, Olayinka Onaolapo, Ikouwem Udoh, Isiaka Oladuntoye (Ernest Governor 30′), Nelson Ogbonnaya, Farouk Mohammed, Chinedu Udeagha, Stanley Dimgba, Wasiu Alalade (Ugochukwu Leonard 81′), Bashir Abdulrahman (Freedom Omofoman 60′), Chinonso Okonkwo.
UNUSED SUBS: Friday Achimugwu, Benjamin Francis, Maxwell Effiom, Dare Ojo, Ifeanyi Anaemena.
CHAN EAGLES STARTING XI: Dele Ajiboye, Ifeanyi Nweke, Orji Kalu Okagbue, Stephen Eze, Victor Mbaoma (Douglas Achiv 73′), Emeka Ogbugh (Emeka Atuloma 83′), Daniel Itodo (Chima Akas 83′), Dayo Ojo (Peter Eneji 72′), Austine Oladapo, Abdulkadir Zango, Sunday Faleye (Gabriel Okechukwu 66′)
UNUSED SUBS: Theophilus Afelokhai, Sikiru Olatunbosun, Kingsley Eduwo, Ibrahim Mustapha, Timothy Danladi, Nura Muhammed.