ENYIMBA DARES ZANACO IN LUSAKA
Two times Africa club champion, Enyimba International, stake its pride against ambitious Zanaco FC in Lusaka, Zambia this afternoon in the play-off fixtures to decided the eight teams that qualify for the group phase of this year's CAF Confederation Cup competition.
Enyimba claimed its sixth title in the Nigerian League last Wednesday and goes into today's clash with confidence. But the Aba Peoples' Elephant is certain to find its host a tough nut to crack as Zanaco boasts of a compact team both in the attack as well as in the defence.
It has been a bumpy road for the former Africa club champion that is making its debut in the lower continental club competition. Enyimba's away record in this year's Confederation has been anything but impressive. The Nigerian flag bearer had to rely on a breath-taking penalty shoot-out in its last match to reach today's round of 16 fixtures as it literally went through the valley of the shadow of death to cancel the three goals deficit it suffered in the first leg of the round of 32 after regulation time of the return leg fixture.
The winner of the two-legged fixture between the Okey Emordi-tutored Enyimba and Zanaco will make one of the two groups in the next phase of the competition which will be played on round robin basis to decide the last four that will play in the semi-final stage.
The Nigeria team relies more on its sharp attack than on its shaky defence. The players expected to provide the fire in Enyimba's attack are the quartet of Uche Kalu, Josiah Maduabuchi, Osas Idehen and Juniour Osagie while Okey Odita is expected to marshal the defence to ensure that the Zambians do not harass goalkeeper Chijioke Ejiogu.
The battle for the last eight teams in the Confederation Cup, however, does not end in Lusaka. The first leg of the play-off matches are made a little bit easier for the former Champions League contenders as they will play hosts to their opponents.
One side, however, that doesn't mind travelling is Angola's Primeiro de Agosto that will take on Libya's Al Ittihad. Agosto paved its way to this point with 2-1 away win over Coton Sport which shows it is not an easy prospect on the road. Factor into that, that Al Ittihad conceded three goals in its loss to Al Ahly to exit the Champions League, Agosto could cause an upset.
Also eager to cause an upset is Zimbabwean side, Caps United that takes on Sudan's Al Hilal. Caps United showed real spirit coming from a goal behind, on aggregate in its two- legged play-off match against Coton Sport of Cameroon to win 2-0 in its home match and progress to the present stage.