Enyimba face uphill battle to reach Confederation Cup final

Mfon Udoh in action for Enyimba Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Enyimba face an uphill battle to qualify for the final of the 2018 African Confederation Cup as they seek to overturn a 1-0 loss from the home leg when they travel to Morocco to meet Raja Casablanca on Wednesday.

Raja will be overwhelming favourites given their excellent record in front of their home fans and the fact that they were able to keep Enyimba scoreless in Aba.

Long-serving club chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu, who was in his role when the team won back-to-back Champions League titles in the early 2000s, is confident the team can spring a surprise.

"I know that a lot of people have written you off after we lost in Aba, but this is the semifinal where nothing is decided until the second leg is over,'' Anyansi told the players as they departed for Mortocco.

"The match in Aba was just like the first half, so we are going to Casablanca for the second half. In football, it is never over until it is over.

"I have not given up and I don't want you to give up. I want you to see this as an opportunity to write your names in gold because the whole world will be amazed if we are able to do it.

"This is not the first time that we've been in this situation. I remember when we won the Champions League in 2004, we had a bad result against Petro Atletico here in Aba but went over there to beat them.

"That same year in the semifinal, we were able to beat Esperance in front of their home fans. These are some of the reasons I haven't given up."

Enyimba welcome back the injured duo of goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai and defender Isiaka Oladuntoye, but it is really up front where their worries lie as they go in search of at least one goal.

Raja are confident they can complete the job having been beaten at hone just once in just under a year in all competitions, and never in the Confederation Cup.

"We knew the strength and weaknesses of Enyimba before the game and we set our tactics to reflect that.

"We have to play another very organised match and beef up the team to ensure that we play very well if we have to qualify for the next round," Raja coach Juan Carlos Garrido said.

The second semifinal is perhaps more evenly balanced as DR Congo side AS Vita Club host Al-Masry of Egypt with the teams locked at 0-0 from the first leg in Port Said.

Vita Club are strong at home, but Al-Masry have conceded just two goals in their last nine Confederation Cup matches this season and are perhaps the most organised side defensively.

That includes holding USM Alger goalless in the two legs of their quarterfinals and Vita Club will face a tough task to break them down.

That being said, Vita Club have won their last 16 home Confederation Cup matches, scoring 41 goals in the process, which includes a 2-0 success over fellow semi-finalists Raja Casablanca this year.

Raja are the only one of the four semi-finalists to have reached the final of the Confederation Cup before which they won in 2003 against Cameroon side CotonSport.