Nigerian league champions, Kano Pillars and Rangers International of Enugu face tricky ties this weekend in the 2013 Orange CAF Champions League. The clashes will see them move to next round of the competition should they emerge victorious.
The reigning Nigerian champions already have a foot in the second round of Africa’s foremost club competition after a valuable win in Kano against the visiting AC Leopard of Congo three weeks ago but must remain focused in Congo tomorrow.
They must avoid conceding up to three goals against the CAF Cup holders if they want to progress to the next round of the competition.
Pillars put themselves in good stead to book a spot in the next round of the championship after the emphatic 4-1 thrashing of AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville in the first leg first round encounter decided at the Sani Abacha Stadium. On paper, the return leg is a mere formality, but in football anything can happen.
AC Leopards are no newcomers in CAF competitions and underrating them will be at the Kano side’s peril.
The Congolese club won the CAF Confederation Cup competition last year and ousted Nigeria’s Heartland of Owerri enroute to clinching the trophy last year.
In the first leg played at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, Pillars were impressive from the beginning of the game and took the lead after only nine minutes into game through Mustapha Musa who also doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime to ensure the country’s flag bearers were two goals up at the end of the first stanza.
On resumption of the second half, Pillars continued from where they stopped and increased the tally in the 52nd minute through Manir Ubale.
The Congolese reduced the goals deficit and got the crucial away goal which counts in the 72nd minute through Drame Bine but a late fight back from the visitors was doused by enterprising Pillars striker, Kabiru Umar who netted the fourth goal in the 85th minute to ensure that the Nigerian club keep their three goals advantage going into the crunch second leg battle in Dolise tomorrow.
Nigeria’s second flag bearer in the CAF Champions League, Enugu Rangers will be at home tomorrow to welcome Vital’O FC of Burudi to the Enugu Township Stadium.
The two sides played a goalless draw in the first leg played in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The Flying Antelopes forced their hosts to a scoreless draw in Burundi and look set to finish up the business in the second leg this weekend at home. “We played a good game.
The boys did well. We should finish them off in the second leg,” the team captain, Anyalogu posted in the official twitter handle of Enugu Rangers.
The Flying Antelopes made the first leg trip to Bujumbura without their full strength since they were yet to clear some of their new signings but the team is expected to come out in full strength this weekend even though without Super Eagles midfielder and new sensation, Sunday Mba whose ownership is still a big subject of debate between Rangers and Warri Wolves.
Meanwhile, North African clubs look likely to continue their long dominance of the CAF Champions League after producing several good results in their first leg first round matches.
The competition’s record seven-time winners Al Ahly travelled to Nairobi for their game against Tusker but struggled through the first half.
Coach Hossam El Badry brought on Emad Moteab for El-Sayed Hamdi and the international striker made all the difference, scoring the opening goal just three minutes after the break.
He added another shortly before the hour-mark, and even though Jesse Were pulled one back for the home side, Moteab’s two goals gave the defending champions an important away win in difficult Nyayo National Stadium.
It was Moteab’s second brace against Tusker, having also scored both goals in Ahly’s 2-0 win in 2006. The defending champions will be at home this weekend in the return against Tusker in Cairo.
Although Esperance have twice won the competition – the last time being two years ago – the Angolan runners-up fancied their chances against the Tunisian team, and were hoping that a home result in the first leg would provide the foundation to advance to the next round.
But the home supporters were disappointed a minute from the break when midfielder Iheb Msakni headed home a free-kick to give the Blood and Gold the all-important away win.
It was still a narrow result that will continue to increase the growing reputation of Angolan domestic football.