The Group C of the Caf Confederation Cup will be action filled this weekend when the fifth round of matches are played at the Stade Modibo Keita, Bamako and Stade Alphonse Massemba-Debat, Brazzaville in Africa’s second-tier club competition.
Djoliba AC of Mali will have the chance to host Enyimba while CARA are waiting in the wing to prey on Williamsville AC of Cote d’Ivoire. At this stage, all the four teams can still qualify with only three points separating the top spot from the bottom of the log.
In Bamako, Enyimba will be hoping to be second time lucky when they square up against Djoliba in a repeat of the 2014 fixture when they battled another Malian team, AS Real Bamako and got a precious 1-0 away win in the Caf Champions League. Even though they were still eliminated by virtue of better away goals having lost the first leg in Aba 2-1 two weeks earlier, they were not disgracefully thrown out.
The People’s Elephant have a slight edge going into the return leg tie because they defeated Djoliba 2-0 in Calabar through the goals of Isiaka Oladundoye and Stanley Dimgba in May but so many things have changed since that tie was decided. Nigeria’s representatives are presently having injury worries ahead of the crunch game and it will be a herculean task for them raising a formidable team that can hurt the Malians at their fortress.
Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Stephen Chukwude, Chinedu Udeagha, Benjamin Francis, Mustapha Ibrahim, Yinka Onaolapo and Nelson Ogbonnaya are some of Enyimba’s regulars that didn’t travel with the team. These players have featured in almost all their previous games before their latest setback.
Usman Abdallah’s men will be hard done by the absence of Ibenegbu and Udeagha who are attacking midfielders. Their unavailability has left Austin Oladapo has the only recognized player for that role ahead of the key tie.
The off-form of Fatau Dauda and Mustapha has not helped Enyimba’s cause also. Dauda was culpable for some of the goals the team conceded against CARA and Williamsville in their last two away games. He has been replaced by Super Eagles goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu who will be having only his second game on the continent this season if he is preferred ahead of Theophilus Afelokhai.
Abdallah will also have to learn to cope with having only two friendly matches against not too good opponents- Enyimba Feeders and Chidex FC to prepare for a make or mar continental fixture. With the Nigeria Football Federation leadership crisis still lingering the league season resumption still remains in limbo. It was the reason why Enyimba couldn’t get competitive games to prepare with.
Enyimba’s away form has been abysmal since the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup started. They managed to avoid defeat against Bidvest Wits of South Africa and Energie Sports of Benin Republic in the earlier round of the competition but they have shipped in five goals in their last two away games with CARA and Williamsville.
With all the other Nigerian clubs on the continent out of the picture after their eliminations, it will be a disaster if the twice Caf Champions League winners are to exit at this stage. They know that they must get a result in Bamako and eventually do the needful that will qualify them for the next round though they are currently third in the group with six points from four games.
Djoliba who are currently last in the group with four points from four games will be within 90 minutes of qualification for the quarter-final of the competition if they are able to surmount Enyimba at home on Sunday night.
The Malians have improved since they lost 2-0 to the same People’s Elephant some three months ago in Calabar to still manage to remain in contention for the next round ticket. They drew at home with Williamsville AC and beat CARA 2-0 before losing narrowly to the Congolese in the reverse fixture on July 29.
The 2016 Malian Premiere Division third-place side will still rely heavily on the important saves of Adama Traore while Mahamadou Cisse, Naby Soumah, Adama Traore, Siaka Bakayoko and others will be interested in nullifying the attacking forays of Enyimba while waiting for the opportunity to pounce on the Nigerians.
In the central part of Africa, Congolese side, CARA will be out to put a stop to the Cinderella run of Caf Confederation Cup debutants, Williamsville in Brazzaville. The tie at the Stade Alphonse Massemba-Debat is very key in determining the two teams that will eventually nick the tickets from Group C.
CARA put themselves up in prime position to move to the next round when they defeated Djoliba in Brazzaville on July 29. They had some weeks earlier lost to the Malians 2-0 in Bamako.
They have another home game against current leaders, Williamsville on Sunday and a win in front of their fans will not only take them to nine points but it also means they assume the leadership of the group ahead of their final fixture away to Enyimba on August 29.
Racine Louamba, Cabawey Mereves Kivutuka and Dicha Bomanyae Liema who joined forces to annihilate the People’s Elephant are still available to wreak havoc against the Ivoriens. The Congolese will be fired up to extend their stay in the competition and so will be desirous of a win not minding what form it takes.
Williamsville are living their dreams in their debut in Africa and they could secure a ticket to the quarter-final with a game to spare if they are able to get a positive result in Congo. They have shown that they are not afraid of any team with the way they stretched their opponents to the limit thus far.
They have only lost a match in their last four group stage games and have been convincing winners in their home matches thus far. They will fancy their chances against the Congolese knowing that they could even afford to lose with a home game waiting for them against Djoliba in a fortnight to seal a quarter-final berth.
The two matches in Group C will prove to be interesting and it is yet to ascertain if Enyimba will be second time fortunate in Bamako or if Williamsville will take precious points off CARA in Brazzaville. It is only time that will tell.
Match Number Fixture Date Venue
1 CARA Vs Williamsville 19/08/2018 Stade Alphonse Massemba-Debat
2 Djoliba Vs Enyimba 19/08/2018 Stade Modibo Keita, Bamako
Kick Off Time TV Channel
2 pm N/A
8 pm N/A