With the first leg of first preliminary round of CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup done and dusted, all focus will now be on the return legs as we examine the results and chances of Nigerian clubsides on the continent.
CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Rahimo FC (Burkina Faso) 1-0 Enyimba (Nigeria)
Two (2) times champions, Enyimba suffered a slim 1-0 defeat in the first leg courtesy Issouf Zanon 30th minute goal. For the people’s elephant to progress to the next round, they have to defeat the Burkina Faso side by 2 unreplied goals or any 2 goals margin. Enyimba should thank first choice goal keeper, Theophilus Afelokhai for his saves that kept the scoreline in a respectable manner. The team will also have to form a good defensive force that will be able to silence Issouf Zanon and Cisse. The introduction of Jean-Marie Guera and Victor Mbaoma changed the tide of the game in favour of Enyimba. The Nigerian side needs a good attacking force that will score quick goals. Over all Enyimba are still poised to progress and finish the work at Aba.
Kano Pillars (Nigeria) 3-2 Ashanti Kotoko (Ghana)
Nigeria second representative in champions league, Kano Pillars have a lot on their sleeve to be able to scale it through to the next round where they will face a North Africans heavyweight after a slim 3-2 home win over Ashanti Kotoko of Ghana. Rahaqqu Adam Yusuf put the host ahead in the 12th minute before Justice Blay Equalised for the Ghanaian in the 52nd minute. 10 minutes later, Ashanti Kotoko took the lead courtesy Godfred Asiamah free kick. Ageless Rabiu Ali Equalised for Pillars in the 70th minute before Gambo Muhammad scored the winning goal in the 75th minute.
Kano Pillars needs to either avoid defeat or replicate same 3-2 away loss to be able to force extra time and penalties in her quest to qualify for next preliminary round.
The fact that the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is not in session can pose a threat to Kano Pillars coupled with Nigerian club mentality of always losing away and having slim home wins. The Kano based side are really walking a tight rope as a club such as Ashanti Kotoko that can get a 2 away goal in Nigeria have the artillery to finish the job in the return leg at Baba Yara Stadium, Ghana.
CAF CONFEDERATION CUP
Only Niger Tornadoes were in action for Nigeria in CAF second tier club competition due to the fact that Enugu Rangers were given a bye from the first preliminary round.
FT: Niger Tornadoes (Nigeria) 1-2 Santoba FC (Guinea)
Niger Tornadoes from the first leg result are as good as dead waiting to be buried as the NPFL relegated side were defeated 2-1 at home by the Guinean club. Niger Tornadoes will have a secure a 2-1 away win or any 2 goals margin win to be able to make it to the next round.
This is really a herculean task for the Nigerian side as Santoba are in pole position to qualify with an away win and two away goals.
Niger Tornadoes secured continental spot as Aiteo Cup Runners Up after eventual winners, Kano Pillars have earlier on secure CAF Champions League spot by finishing second at the end of NPFL Season.
As the three (3) Nigerian clubs prepare for their return legs, they all have a lot at stake to secure qualification. Only Enugu Rangers with a bye is secured qualification. Others have a huge task at hand for qualification to be secured as Nigerians hope for a positive return leg result.
By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde