BY MUYIWA AKINTUNDE.
Enyimba and Rangers will know their opponents in the group stage of this season’s CAF Confederation Cup. The draw comes up at 11am (Nigerian time) this Tuesday at CAF headquarters in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, with 16 teams in the hat.
The sides will be placed in three pots and allocated into four groups of four teams each.
Given the current ranking of the clubs, reigning NPFL champions Enyimba are in Pot 1, while Aiteo (Federation) Cup winners Rangers will be in Pot 2.
Since their are no federation restrictions at this stage of the competition, there is the possibility of the Nigerian teams in the same group. The same situation will apply to Morocco and Egypt who have teams in different pots.
Seeded along with Enyimba in Pot 1 are Guinea’s Horoya, RS Berkane (Morocco) and Al-Masry SC (Egypt).
Enyimba lifted the CAF Champions League in 2003 and 2004. Their best outing in the Confederation Cup was semifinal appearance in 2018.
Horoya had won the CAF Cup Winners Cup in 1978 and had featured in the glamorous CAF Champions League nine times, not going beyond the quarterfinals though.
The Moroccan side RS Berkane had an impressive run in the Confederation Cup last season reaching the final but losing to Zamalek 5-3 penalties after both legs deadlocked 1-1. Zamalek chose to feature in the Champions League this term rather than defend their title.
Egypt’s Al-Masry crashed out in the semifinal of the 2018 edition of this tournament.
In Pot 2 along with Rangers are Morocco’s Hassania Agadir,Zanaco FC (Zambia) and Mali’s Djoliba.
Pot 3 has the rest of the teams. These are: Pyramids FC(Egypt), FC San Pédro (Côte d’Ivoire), FC Nouadhibou (Mauritania), Al-Nasr SC (Libya), Paradou AC (Algeria), Daring Club Motema Pembe (DR Congo), Bidvest Wits (South Africa) and ESAE (Benin Republic)
The group phase kick offs in the weekend of November 29 to December 1 and ends in the weekend of March 6-8, 2020 with the top two teams in each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
No Nigerian club have ever won this competition 15 years after the CAF Cup and the African Cup Winners’ Cup were merged to have the present format.
Shooting Stars, now a second division side, won the CAF Cup in 1992, while Bendel Insurance, also in that lower section, repeated the feat two years later.
In the African Cup Winners’ Cup, which was introduced in 1975, three Nigerian teams achieved the height as champions –Shooting Stars (1976), Rangers (1977) and BCC Lions (1990).