Nigerian clubs learn CAF Confederation Cup opponents
Nigeria’s four representatives in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup learned the identities of their playoff-round opponents in Wednesday’s draw in Cairo.
None of Plateau United, MFM FC, Enyimba and Akwa United will have it easy as they look to reach the group stage of Africa’s secondary club competition, but each will fancy their chances of progression.
Reigning Nigeria champions Plateau United, who dropped from the CAF Champions League after being eliminated by Etoile du Sahel, are scheduled to play USM Alger of Algeria in arguably the toughest of the four draws.
The Nigerians will host the first leg, and will be keen to avoid having to play at a neutral venue after their home turf was deemed unsuitable for their earlier Champions League campaign.
MFM FC, who were dumped out of the CAF Champions League following a crushing loss away to MC Alger, are set to do battle with Djoliba of Mali for a place in the group stage of the competition.
It will represent the second time this season that the Nigerian rookies play a Malian side after eliminating AS Real Bamako in the CAF Champions League Preliminary Round.
Enyimba, who survived a scare at home to Energie of Benin Republic in the last round, were paired against South African champions Bidvest Wits.
This represents the toughest test yet for the People’s Elephant, who have failed to win in two previous outings on South African soil.
The South Africans were ousted from the CAF Champions League following a penalty-shootout loss to Angolan team Primeiro de Agosto, and will be desperate to avoid missing out on the group stage altogether.
With Wits struggling for consistency domestically this term, Enyimba may be quietly confident of picking up a first-ever win in South Africa.
Akwa United required penalty kicks to advance past Al-Ittihad Tripoli to get to this stage and have been rewarded with an ominous tie against Al-Hilal of Omdurman.
The Sudanese giants surprisingly bit the dust against minnows AS Togo-Port in the CAF Champions League, and will be keen to bounce back against the Aiteo Cup holders.
It does represent a tough task for the Promise Keepers as they eye a first group-stage qualification, although they have the bite in midfield and the edge up front to trouble the fallen heavyweights.
Elsewhere, Zanaco have been pitted against Raja Casablanca, Saint George face CARA Brazzaville, and Gor Mahia are up against SuperSport United.
The first-leg fixtures of the CAF Confederation Cup will be held on the weekend of 6-8 April 2018, with the return legs scheduled for 17-18 April.
Complete Confederation Cup playoff-round draw
Zanaco (Zambia) vs Raja Casablanca (Morocco)
AS Vita Club (DR Congo) vs CS La Mancha (Congo-Brazzaville)
Saint George (Ethiopia) vs CARA Brazzaville (Congo-Brazzaville)
Al-Hilal (Sudan) vs Akwa United (Nigeria)
Gor Mahia (Kenya) vs SuperSport United (South Africa)
UD Songo (Mozambique) vs Al-Hilal Al-Ubayyid (Sudan)
Plateau United (Nigeria) vs USM Alger (Algeria)
BidVest Wits (South Africa) vs Enyimba (Nigeria)
Aduana Stars (Ghana) vs Fosa Juniors (Madagascar)
Young Africans (Tanzania) vs Welayta Dicha (Ethiopia)
Génération Foot (Senegal) vs RS Berkane (Morocco)
CF Mounana (Gabon) vs Al-Masry (Egypt)
ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast) vs CR Belouizdad (Algeria)
Williamsville AC (Ivory Coast) vs Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea)
MFM FC (Nigeria) vs Djoliba (Mali)
Rayon Sports (Rwanda) vs Costa do Sol (Mozambique)