CAF Competitions: Can Nigerian clubs make an impact on the continent?
The 2020/2021 CAF Champions League and Confederations cup are in full swing, with Nigerian teams joining their counterparts from other African countries in search of continental glory.
Two time African Champions, Enyimba and reigning Nigerian champions, Plateau United are flying our flag in the Champions League.
They had contrasting fortunes last weekend, as Enyimba got their campaign off to a great start with 1-0 win over Rahimo in Burkina Faso, while Plateau United succumbed to a 1-0 home defeat against Tanzanian outfit, Simba.
In the Confederations Cup, both Kano Pillars and Rivers United suffered defeats to Jaraaf and Futuro Kings respectively in the first leg of the first qualifying round. Pillars were dispatched 3-1 by their Senegalese opponents; while Rivers United lost 2-1 in Equatorial Guinea.
All four teams are back in action this weekend, as they attempt to progress into the next round of their respective competitions.
Of the two teams in the Confederations Cup, Rivers United have the easier task of progressing, as a 1-0 victory will be enough to get them through to the next round. In fact, some bookmakers have the Port Harcourt team as favourites to reach the next stage of the tournament.
For Kano Pillars, things are more complicated. The away goal that they scored in Senegal means a 2-0 victory will be good enough to get them through.
Pillars are traditionally very strong at home, and will be very hopeful of overturning the deficit.
If you are a betting man and fancy a calculated risk this weekend, you can back the Kano team to qualify on any of the betting sites in Nigeria.
In the Champions League, the prospects of having our two representatives in the money-spinning group stage are slim to the mill.
Plateau United have the proverbial mountain to climb, having lost to Simba in the first leg in Jos. Given that Nigerian teams are not exactly good travelers and Plateau’s lack of experience at this level, progress into the next round looks very unlikely for the Jos team.
Enyimba, on the other hand, have an easier task of getting to the next round, following that victory in Burkina Faso.
The Elephants will be high on confidence as they head into the second leg this weekend, knowing that all they have to do is to avoid defeat against the Burkinabe team.
They thumped the same opposition 5-0 in Aba last season.
Enyimba are favourites to progress and they should dispatch their opponents but can they go all the way and regain the CAF Champions League trophy?
Just like in recent years, the early prognosis for Nigeria’s representatives on the continent is not pleasant.
They are outsiders, with no meaningful chance of going all the way in their respective competitions.
Although it is still early days, the signs and trappings of another disastrous attempt by Nigerian clubs to earn their stripes on the continent are all but obvious.
There is no slight hint of a successful campaign by any of the four teams on the continent.
If anything, there are more indicators for possible ill-fated campaigns than a strong showing on the continent.
The league is yet to start in Nigeria and there is yet to be clarity in that regard.
So far their only competitive games have come in the form of their exertions on the continent.
The age-old problems of lack of professionalism and poor running of the clubs are still extant
Frankly, they are all set up to continue the vicious cycle of early exits from continental competitions.
However, if there is going to be any surprises from any of these teams, Enyimba, with their pedigree and experience, look like the only Nigerian side capable of mounting any serious challenge for a continental trophy.