Enyimba, Rayon Sports battle for CAF Confederation Cup final four spot
Nigeria's Enyimba will battle Rayon Sports of Rwanda at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Sunday for a semi-final spot in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The two teams played out a 0-0 draw in Kigali on Sunday, a result which, on paper, appears to favour the People's Elephant, who have won all but one of their five previous home games in the competition. The only exception being a goalless draw against Bidvest Wits of South Africa in the play-off round.
Both sides' run to the quarter finals was characterised by a low-scoring attack and stingy defence, with Enyimba scoring and conceding five goals.
Rayon went one better, netting six goals, with Bonfils Caleb Bimenyimana, Ismaila Diarra, and Eric Rutanga all chipping in with two strikes apiece, while letting in five at the other end.
Enyimba impressively managed to keep a clean sheet in all three group-stage home matches, and they owe their valuable away draw in Kigali to goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai, who came through for the People's Elephant with a number of big saves.
Despite their inability to find the back of the net for the first time at home in the competition against Enyimba, Rayon have proven to be a threat on the road. They have netted a combined three goals against USM Alger and Gor Mahia in the group stage.
Rayon's Brazilian coach Roberto Oliveira expressed confidence in his team's ability to upset the odds and pick up a win against the two-time CAF Champions League winners away from home.
"We will push to score goals and win the game, and we have proved we can score and win matches on foreign soil," the coach told Guardian Nigeria.
"I have confidence in my players, and the coaching staff. We want to register further history and we will do all we can to achieve it," Oliveira concluded. "Thankfully we didn't concede on Sunday."
For Enyimba to keep hopes alive of progression to the semi finals, they simply need to improve their goals conversion rate.
However, successive goal-shy performances against CARA Brazzaville and Williamsville AC, headlined by inexcusable misses from culprits Ibrahim Mustapha, Sunday Adetunji and Wasiu Alalade should have coach Usman Abdallah worried.
A draw, regardless of how many goals scored, would automatically eliminate Enyimba, ending their dream of a first continental title in 14 years; hence the need for the Nigerians to bury whatever chances comes their way on Sunday.
The team that qualifies will play the winner of the quarter final between Raja Casablanca and CARA Brazzaville in the semi, with the first leg scheduled to hold 3 October and return leg 24 October.