Blow for Enyimba ahead of must-win clash with Orlando Pirates
Midfielder Ben Motshwari (R) will be a key figure for Orlando Pirates when they face Enyimba in the CAF Confederation Cup in Nigeria
Nigerian club Enyimba will be without suspended captain and leading scorer Augustine Oladapo when they host South African outfit Orlando Pirates on Wednesday in a crucial CAF Confederation Cup group game.
Only a final-round victory against the unbeaten Buccaneers will give the twice African champions a chance of a top-two finish and qualification for the quarter-finals.
“I knew this group would go down to the wire. We must collect maximum points against Pirates to keep alive our hopes of becoming the first winners from Nigeria,” said Enyimba coach Fatai Osho.
Entente Setif of Algeria host Al Ahly Benghazi of Libya in the other Group A fixture and all four clubs have a chance of reaching the knockout stage.
Here, AFP Sport previews matchday 6 with already-qualified clubs in two of the other three sections striving to finish first, and avoid other group winners in the draw.
Enyimba hope the dribbling skills of rising star Anayo Iwuala can help unlock a Pirates defence that has conceded only one goal in eight qualifying and group matches.
That goal was scored by Oladapo, but it could not prevent the Nigerian visitors losing 2-1 in Soweto with Tshegofatso Mabasa snatching a late winner.
Enyimba have won their last four CAF home matches, all by one-goal margins, and a 1-0 win or a two-goal victory will ensure they finish above Pirates on head-to-head record, and progress.
Victory for leaders and six-time CAF title winners JS Kabylie of Algeria at home to bottom club NAPSA Stars of Zambia will seal first place.
Kabylie lead Coton Sport of Cameroon on head-to-head and have what should prove an easier finish as the central Africans must visit 2020 title-holders Renaissance Berkane of Morocco.
Berkane, the fifth Moroccan club to win the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League, will want to bow out on a high note after two losses and two draws since defeating NAPSA in the opening round.
Second-place CS Sfaxien of Tunisia will be wary of Papa Paye when they host surprise leaders Jaraaf of Senegal in a match that will decide who tops the standings.
Paye has scored in the last three rounds, with two goals proving match-winners, as the Dakar outfit recovered from collecting only one point from a possible six in the first two matchdays.
Record three-time Confederation Cup winners Sfaxien also boast a consistent scorer in Firas Chaouat, whose combined CAF Champions League/Confederation Cup goal tally this season is nine.
Only pride is at stake in this section with 2018 title-holders Raja Casablanca of Morocco assured of first place and 2020 runners-up Pyramids of Egypt finishing second.
Forwards Soufiane Rahimi and Congolese Ben Malango have impressed for Raja, who are shaping up as title favourites having won all five group matches with an 11-0 goal record.
Raja finish off at home to poor travellers Nkana of Zambia, who have never won in north Africa, while Pyramids host Namungo, a Tanzanian team that have lost their five group matches without scoring.