The two Nigerian teams left in CAF club competitions this season, Enyimba and Rivers United, are set for their respective first-leg games in the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
Enyimba Wednesday evening will be up against Al Merrikh as they look to seal their place in the money-spinning group stage of the CAF Champions League.
The People’s Elephant failed in their last attempt to progress to the group stage of this competition last season and as it is fondly said; ‘once beaten, twice shy’.
Interestingly, Enyimba were stopped the last time by another Sudanese team, Al Hilal, and this time they have to contend with Al Merrikh in order to join the continent’s big boys in the group stage.
Though depleted with a handful of injuries to key players, Enyimba coach Fatai Osho is confident the Peoples’ Elephant have what it takes to progress.
While speaking on today’s game, Osho said his boys must be at their very best to survive against the ambitious Al Merreikh team.
He told the local radio station, Brila.net, that his players are fully aware they carry the hopes of over 100 million Nigerians and would definitely go all out for the best result possible.
“We have to raise our heads above waters and be resilient… we know what we want and we have to go for it and we are quite aware that it won’t be easy, the Sudanese side are a good side,” Osho said.
Enyimba defeated Rahimo of Burkina Faso 2-1 on aggregate in the preliminaries to get to this round.
In the Confederation Cup, Rivers United also have a tricky clash against South African side, Bloemfontein Celtic.
Having barely squeezed into this stage of the competition via a penalty shootout win over Futuro Kings of Equatorial Guinea, Rivers United cannot afford a heavy defeat in South Africa
Already, the coach of the Port Harcourt-based team, Stanley Eguma, agrees they have a formidable opponent in Bloemfontein Celtic. He said he and his team have resolved not to let Nigerians down.
We are on a mission in South Africa.
We DON'T want to let Rivers State, Our Governor Barr Nyesom Wike, Our Sports Commissioner Hon Boma Iyaye, our Perm Sec Sir Honour Sirawoo, our supporters, the good people of Rivers State and the entire Nigeria down.#Believe pic.twitter.com/EJCNbsfYGD
— Rivers United FC (@RiversUnitedFC) December 20, 2020
Eguma in his pre-match conference alluded to the fact that Rivers United know what to expect and what is expected of them.
“We expect a tough opposition as we face them in South Africa. We at Rivers United have come to know that this tournament requires nothing but the best from all of us after what we saw in the preliminary round. We know we must work round the clock to ensure good results,” Eguma said.
Unlike the CAF Champions League where Enyimba are two-time champions, no Nigerian team has ever won the CAF Confederation Cup.
The second leg for Enyimba and Rivers United will be played in January in Aba and Port Harcourt respectively.
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