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Enyimba rusty and goal shy ahead of CAF Cup showdown

The Nigerian league was halted because of a national association power struggle between incumbent Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giva, which the former won.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sep 14 – A lack of match sharpness could hamper Enyimba of Nigeria when they tackle Rayon Sports of Rwanda in Kigali this weekend in a CAF Confederation Cup quarter-final first leg. 

The Nigerian league was halted because of a national association power struggle between incumbent Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giva, which the former won.

Then, the championship was shortened by 14 rounds because of fixture congestion, leaving Enyimba short of competitive fixtures as they seek a fifth African title.

They won successive CAF Champions League titles in 2003 and 2004 and the CAF Super Cup matches that followed those triumphs.

Another worry for Enyimba is a lack of goals in Africa — they have managed only 11 in 10 outings with leading scorers Ibrahim Mustapha and Chinonso Okonkwo claiming just two each.

AFP Sport previews the quarter-finals this Sunday in a competition sure to produce new title-holders with none of the previous 14 winners in contention.

CARA v Raja

Congo Brazzaville outfit CARA have won all six home matches and lost all six on the road en route to a first appearance in the last eight of the second-tier African competition.

That should make them favourites to build a first-leg lead, but five-time CAF title winners Raja Casablanca of Morocco have triumphed three times and drawn once in five away matches.

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If CARA are to maintain a perfect home record, they must shackle the Moroccan wearing the number 24 shirt for Raja, 10-goal leading Confederation Cup scorer Mahmoud Benhalib.

Rayon v Enyimba

Gor Mahia striker Francis Mustafa vies for the ball against Rayon Sport’s Abdul Rwatubyaye in a CAF Confederations Cup match at the Kasarani Stadium on August 19, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

A goal glut is unlikely in this match as both clubs have averaged barely more than one a game with Rayon scoring nine in eight outings and Enyimba 11 in 10.

Enyimba star Mfon Udoh, a particularly impressive free-kick taker, is unconcerned about the lack of goals, saying: “Winning is what matters, not how many times you score.”

Rayon won just one of three home group matches and Enyimba lost two of three away games, suggesting there will be little to choose between these teams.

V Club v Berkane

Democratic Republic of Congo outfit V Club are the second quarter-finalists with a 100 percent home record this season, making them favourites to build a first-leg advantage.

They host Renaissance Berkane in Kinshasa having achieved good results against another Moroccan club — winning at home and drawing away in group matches with Raja.

Jean-Marc Mundele has scored seven of the 14 V Club goals in the Confederation Cup this season while four-goal Togolese Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba poses the main Berkane threat.

Masry v USM

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Gor Mahia midfielder Ernest Wendo puts USM Alger’s Hemza Koudri under pressure during their CAF Confederation Cup match at the Kasarani Stadium on May 16, 2018 in a CAF Confederation Cup match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Al Masry of Egypt take a 10-match unbeaten CAF record this season into the first leg of an intriguing north African showdown against far more experienced USM Alger of Algeria.

The Port Said club are coached by Egyptian legend Hossam Hassan, a CAF club title winner as a striker with both Cairo giants, Al Ahly and Zamalek.

Frenchman Thierry Froger manages USM, who have struggled to score consistently since the mid-year departure of leading goalscorer Oussama Darfalou to the Netherlands.

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