The CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup preliminary round matches will be taking centre stage this weekend and three Nigerian clubs will be facing their respective opponents for a chance of getting into the next stage.
Two-time African champions Enyimba will be leading the charge by Nigerian teams seeking glory on the continent this season as they begin their campaign in the Champions League away to Libyan side, Al-Ahli Benghazi .
Remo Stars, the other Nigerian team in the Champions League are also starting their campaign away from home as they face Medeama FC in Ghana.
In the Confederation Cup, only Bendel Insurance will feature in the preliminary round; welcoming their Algerian counterpart, ASO Chlef to the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin on Saturday.
The other Nigerian team in the competition, Rivers United, are drawn into the next phase.
The focus right now for the three clubs in action this weekend will be to avoid an early exit from the continental competitions and that will require winning games “convincingly”.
Enyimba face old foe after two years
The People’s Elephants will face Al-Ahli Benghazi for the first time after both sides played each other in the 2021 CAF Confederation Cup
The experienced Enyimba team are aware they will need to be focused on and off the pitch not to fall for the shenanigans customary with the North African teams.
The reigning Nigerian League champions will be seeking to score their first away goal against the Libyan side who defeated them by a lone goal in thier last visit to the North African country.
Enyimba returned to Aba to get their own pound of flesh the last time and that may be the case once more.
Meanwhile, Finidi George will be trusting the affairs of his team with new players as some of his trusted old legs have left the club after the expiration of their contract.
With the departure of Emeka Obioma, the league’s highest goalscorer to Esperance, Enyimba would be trusting other legs to get the goals coming.
Remo Stars can do better this time
Their debut game on the continent against AS FAR of Morocco ended in a 1-1 draw in Rabat but missed out by a 55th minute goal from Joseph Gnadou for the Moroccans at Ikenne.
This time Daniel Ogunmodede has one target to fulfil and that’s to exceed their previous stage last season.
With the return of Sikiru Alimi and recruitment of a couple of other new players, the Sky Blue Stars appear better fortified for thier continental adventure this time.
Remo Stars who finished second behind Enyimba at the Super Six would have to prove against Ghanaian league champions Medeama FC, they are an emerging force ready to take the continent by storm.
Bendel Insurance Vs ASO Chlef: Similar fate
Bendel Insurance and their opponent, ASO Chlef shared similar fate in getting a continental ticket. While Bendel Insurance after a perfect abridged season failed to grab a ticket at the super six, they eventually found solace with a win over Enugu Rangers in the FA Cup final to grab a continental ticket.
A similar story was also for their Algerian counterpart, Chlef who finished fifth last season but won the league cup to earn a spot at the continental stage for the first time in over a decade.
While both clubs have a common identity, there is a need to see how they wage war for the next phase. Their last five games in the league saw the Algerians record three wins and two defeats. They conceded six goals and scored eight goals.
However, they seemed to be a defensive minded team as the highest they have conceded in a regular season was four goals and also, they are very poor on the road. They conceded 21 goals, lost eight games, drawn five and won two throughout the season.
Bendel Insurance on the other hand doesn’t score goals and this might be a limitation for them while they play against a tactically defensive team.
The Benin Gunners played 23 games last season and recorded 13 draws. As a matter of fact, aside from their victory over Enugu Rangers at the FA Cup final, they are yet to win a game in their last five league matches.
Having waited this long for a return to the continent, Coach Monday Odigie and his boys know they have a huge task to avoid thier comeback being shortlved.
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