African Champions League: Nigerians & South Africans at risk of elimination….

African Champions League trophy

All four Nigerian and South African contenders are in danger of being eliminated from the African Champions League this weekend at the last-32 stage. Nigerians Enyimba defend a precarious 1-0 lead over Egyptians Smouha on Sunday in Mediterranean city Alexandria. And Kano Pillars must stage a miraculous comeback in northern Nigeria on Saturday to survive having crumbled 4-0 away to Moroccans Moghreb Tetouan. South Africans Mamelodi Sundowns are in a similar position to Enyimba after establishing only a 1-0 lead over Democratic Republic of Congo visitors TP Mazembe. Soweto side Kaizer Chiefs are much worse off as careless defending at a free-kick led to a 1-0 home defeat by Moroccans Raja Casablanca three weeks ago. Sundowns play on Sunday afternoon in mining hub Lubumbashi and Chiefs go into action five hours later in the Moroccan commercial capital. Nigeria and South Africa are the economic giants of Africa and boast two of the most competitive domestic leagues on the continent. But both nations have struggled to make their mark in the premier Confederation of African Football club competition with back-to-back victories by Enyimba a decade ago the only Nigerian triumphs. South Africa have been even less successful with a lone Champions League – then called the African Champions Cup – triumph coming through Orlando Pirates 20 years ago. While Enyimba, Pillars, Sundowns and Chiefs face tasks of varying difficulty, the quartet were speaking optimistically this week. Kadiri Ikhana, who coached Enyimba to 2003 Champions League glory, said he had a plan to combat the cold evening weather expected in Alexandria. “Our preparations will include lots of running and I do not envisage the cold having a negative effect on us,” he said.

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