The two teams that would be representing Nigeria in the CAF Champions League this season, Enyimba and Kano Pillars, will on Saturday begin their quest for glory in the competition.
Enyimba, who are two-time champions in this competition, have been pitched to face a relatively unknown team from Burkina Faso, Rahimo FC, in this preliminary stage.
On their part, Kano Pillars have their work cut out as they start against one of Ghana’s biggest clubs, Asante Kotoko.
Pillars’ best run in the Caf Champions League was 10 years ago when they made their debut and went as far as the semi-final before they were knocked out by fellow Nigerian campaigners, Heartland.
Since then, Sai Masu Gida have never gone past the first round, a disappointing record they are determined to change as they make their sixth appearance in this Caf club competition.
As for Kotoko, they are making their 10th appearance but with very little to show for their efforts as they have only made it as far as the group just once in 2006.
Both Pillars and Kotoko are enjoying a good run of form going into Saturday’s tie as the duo were undefeated in their last five competitive outings.
Sai Masu Gida are further boosted with their triumph in the 2019 Federation Cup, a feat that ended over three decades endless wait for Cup glory.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES ahead of Saturday’s tie at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, Adamu Hassan who is among the strikers for Pillars assured of a good result against the Ghanaians.
“We are well prepared for this game since we won the Federation Cup in Kaduna we have been preparing very well for this match agianst Kotoko and by God’s grace, we are sure we will get a good result on Saturday,” Hassan stated.
Unfortunately, Hassan will play no part in the games against Kotoko as some delay with his international passport did not allow for his registration.
“I will not play against Kotoko but I trust my teammates to get the job done, Insha Allah I will join them in the next stage,” Hassan added.
The winners after the two-legged tie between Pillars and Kotoko are billed to face Hafia FC of Guinea or Tunisian club Etoile du Sahel in the next stage.
As for Enyimba, they go into Saturday’s tie as NPFL champions.
The People’s Elephants have been very busy in the transfer window with a lot of quality additions to their already star-studded team.
Enyimba coach, Usman Abd’Allah, said the acquisition of new players was chiefly to aid their continental assignment.
“We got so many new players to join the team so that we can have more strength in the Champions League,” the coach said in an interview with the club’s website.
“This is the beginning. We hope to win this one and we continue becoming stronger as the competition goes on.”
Saturday’s game between Enyimba and Rahimo will be held at Burkina Faso’s national stadium, the 38,000 capacity Stade du 4 Août in Ouagadougou.
The People’s Elephant return home for the reverse fixture two weeks later at Aba International stadium.