Nigeria’s Enyimba face huge challenge against watertight Raja Casablanca




Enyimba




Enyimba of Nigeria must succeed where five other clubs have failed if they hope to shock hosts Raja Casablanca of Morocco on Wednesday and reach the CAF Confederation Cup final.

Raja goalkeeper Anas Zniti has gone 461 minutes in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League without conceding a goal after letting in one in a qualifier last March.

Since Nouadhibou of Mauritania breached the Moroccan rearguard, Zanaco of Zambia, V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast, Aduana Stars of Ghana and CARA of Congo Brazzaville have failed to do so.

Enyimba fell 1-0 at home to Raja in a semi-final first leg won by an Abdelilah Hafidi goal so they must score at least once at the 60,000-seat Stade Mohammed V to salvage the tie.

Given that the Nigerians have scored just four times in six away CAF matches and their leading scorers have notched only two, the odds are stacked against the Aba outfit.

Raja could meet group opponents V Club of DR Congo again in the two-leg final as the Kinshasa side have second-leg home advantage after forcing a 0-0 draw with Al Masry in Egypt.

AFP Sport previews both second legs in a competition guaranteed to have a new name engraved on the trophy as none of the semi-finalists have lifted it before.

V Club v Masry

All is not lost for visitors Masry as they boast a 13-match unbeaten Confederation Cup record stretching back to March when they lost narrowly to Green Buffaloes in Zambia.




The Port Said outfit coached by Egypt legend Hossam Hassan also did not concede a home goal so a score draw in the DR Congo capital would take them through to the final.

However, first-time semi-finalists Masry will need mental strength to survive at the Stade des Martyrs, one of the most hostile football environments in Africa.

Up to 80,000 supporters could attend and virtually all of them will be willing V Club to reach a third CAF final.

V Club won the African Cup of Champions Clubs in 1973 and were runners-up in the same competition — now called the CAF Champions League — four seasons ago.

Jean-Marc Makusu Mundele is the V Club star having notched nine goals en route to the penultimate stage, including four in a match in neighbouring Congo Brazzaville.



Raja v Enyimba

Raja rank among the most successful clubs in Africa, winning five CAF competitions, including the Champions League three times.

But it is 15 years since they lifted an African trophy, beating Coton Sport of Cameroon 2-0 on aggregate in the last final of the now defunct CAF Cup.

Boasting a squad littered with Moroccan internationals, they have been favourites to win the Confederation Cup this year since surviving a qualifying round scare from Nouadhibou.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for twice African champions Enyimba as Raja have blown hot and cold at their Casablanca fortress.



The Moroccans were held 1-1 by Nouadhibou and 0-0 by V Club and an anticipated goal deluge against CARA never materialised as they scraped a 1-0 win.

Raja do, however, possess two deadly sharpshooters in Mahmoud Benhalib, the leading Confederation Cup scorer with 11 goals, and Mouhcine Iajour.






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