Pillars, Rangers set to trample on Central African Republic, Sao Tome opponents in CAF Champions League

The two Nigerian clubs will strive to start the money spinning lucrative competition with a bang to show that they are ready to make their people happy this year
Nigeria representatives in the CAF Champions League, Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers will begin their quest to challenge for the 2013 edition when they take to the pitch this weekend against Central African Republic and Sao Tome and Principe opponents.

Enyimba International remains the only club in the country that has won the competition that was at a time elusive and jinxed to Nigerian clubs owing to the series of disappointments had in it before the Peoples Elephant victories in 2003 and 2004 against Ismaily SC of Egypt and Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia respectively.

Besides the national pride at stake both Nigerian clubs will seek to out-do their counterparts from the rest of Africa and triumph at the end of the campaign because of the incentives that will accrued for a successful stint.

The winner of the 2013 edition will be smiling to the bank in US dollars and the club has the right to represent  the continent at the 2013 FIFA World Club Cup and the 2014 Super Cup Competitions.

Kano Pillars will be the first to step out when they host Olympic Real de Bangui of Central African Republic in the first leg of the preliminary round billed for today at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.

The club is not new to the Champions League contest having participated twice in the Africa's elite club competition before this year.

They got to the semi finals in their maiden appearance in 2009 before they were stopped by fellow Nigerian side, Heartland FC and the second outing was not too spectacular because the club was beaten by eventual finalists, Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco in the second round in 2011.

The club from the Pyramid City are up against Olympic Real today despite having only scrappy information about their foes. They need to be at their best in the match to record an overwhelming result in order not to put the overall result of the tie in doubt.

In a chat with Goal.com Club chairman, Alhaji Abba Galadima confessed Pillars didn't get sufficient details about their opponent but he assured that the club would take their visitors to the cleaners here before wrapping up proceedings in Bangui in a fortnight.

"We don't have more information about our opponent. We tried to lay our hands on some details about them but we couldn't. What we have planned to do is to concentrate on our own preparation.

"We don't have any doubt in our minds that we will not beat them very well here and then complete the job in Bangui in two weeks," Alhaji Galadima told Goal.com.

The club administrator said the Kano government has motivated the players and officials of the team for them to fashion out a winning formula at home and also during the away tie.

Pillars shouldn't have much problem defeating the club from Central African Republic but taking them for granted may spell doom for them because everyone is still talking about the heroic of the country's senior national team which bundled 7 times African champions, Pharaohs of Egypt out of the race to the just concluded 2013 Africa Cup of Nations which Nigeria won in South Africa.

In the same vein, Enugu Rangers will also have their hands full on Sunday when they play at home to another unknown quantity Sporting Clube do Príncipe of Sao Tome at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium,Enugu.

The Flying Antelopes did a major surgical work on the team that won the state owned team the ticket to the Africa's lucrative clubs competition last year with as many as 15 players or more added to the playing staff.

They boast of Super Eagles' players, Chigozie Agbim, Sunday Mba and Ejike Uzoenyi. They also have goal machine, Sani Sanusi, Emmanuel Daniel among other super stars in their fold ahead of the continental showpiece.

It took the club a whole 9 years to stage a return to the continent and thus attract international club games to Enugu despite the level of support they enjoy from their main sponsor, Enugu government and their vociferous fans and supporters alike. This they achieved after placing second in the league behind winners, Kano Pillars last season.

The club in 2004 took part in the inaugural edition of the CAF Confederation Cup after the popular CAF Cup was abolished the previous year.
The Flying Antelopes put up a good display in that competition and were poised to secure a place in the final before they were eliminated by the head to head rule applied between them and Ashante Kotoko of Ghana.

While the Ghanaian club pummelled Rangers 3-1 in Accra, they were only able to retaliate with a 1-0 scoreline in Enugu when a 2-0 result could have guaranteed a final berth.

Though Rangers had a better goal difference of +6 as against Kotoko's +3 the wicked head to head rule put paid to the club's ambition to get to the final.

Rangers have not had it so good like they are having it currently and with former Enyimba coach, Okey Emordi at the helm of affair, Enugu government and the fans will not take excuses if the club fails to win well on Sunday against the Sao Tome and Principe opposition.

Despite the lack of knowledge about their preliminary round opponent, Rangers should still be able to dig in deep and get the desired healthy scoreline at home before they visit the Southern African nation in two weeks.

Football followers expect the two teams to win with a wide goal margin and get the job done in the second leg in two weeks time.