ENYIMBA SET FOR TITANIC DUEL WITH RAJA CASABLANCA

ENYIMBA SET FOR TITANIC DUEL WITH RAJA CASABLANCA

BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

 

Enyimba will host the first leg semifinal of the CAF Confederation Cup in Aba next 10 days with the reverse fixture three weeks later in Casablanca, home of Raja Club Athletic.

The tie with Raja Casablanca was confirmed as the Moroccan team eliminated CARA Brazzaville 3-1 aggregate in the quarterfinals.

Raja had won 2-1 in Brazzaville and sealed it with a lone goal at their 70,000 capacity Stade Mohammed V at that central-western part of Morocco bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

Casablanca is also the largest city in the Maghreb, as well as one of the largest and most important cities in the continent, both economically and demographically.

Enyimba will host Raja at the newly reconstructed Enyimba International Stadium, which has a capacity for 20,000 fans.

Raja will make the last attempt to stop the People`s Elephant from reaching the final of the Confederation Cup.

The North African sides have in their shelf three CAF Champions League titles (1989, 1997 and 1999), the continent’s Super Cup (2003) and the old CAF Cup (2003).

Going by CAF ranking of African clubs in the 20th Century (by the titles they won), Raja ranked third behind two Egyptian big clubs – Zamalek and Al-Ahly.

Third placed in the Moroccan league in 2016/17 season, Raja have scored 26 goals in 11 matches and conceded nine times in this year’s CAF Confederation Cup. That came from seven wins, three draws and a lone defeat away to As Vita Club of DR Congo (0-2) in the group stage.

Enyimba have also pulled their own weight in the continent. Winners of the CAF Champions League in 2003 and 2004 and the CAF Super Cup in 2004 and 2005, the People’s Elephant have reached the semifinals of the Champions League on two previous occasions 2008 and 2011.

North African oppositions had fallen at crucial times to Enyimba. In winning the Champions League, they beat Egypt’s Ismaily in the 2003 final, 2-0 in Aba and 0-1 away. They had eliminated USM Alger 3-2 aggregate in the semi-final.

 

The following year, they defeated Étoile du Sahel of Tunisia 2-1 away and lost by the same margin at home but eventually won by penalties. Esperance of Tunisia lost to Enyimba also via penalties in the last four.

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