*Flying Antelopes coach, Ugwu, says no cause for alarm
Nigerian champions Enyimba have been draw to begin their CAF Confederation Cup away to Morocco’s Hassania Agadir, while Rangers, who were knocked out at the group phase last year, will host another north African team, Pyramids FC of Egypt when the tournament kicks off on December 1.
The draw for the group phase of the continent’s second tier club competition had earlier been conducted at the CAF headquarters in Cairo, placing Enyimba in Group D and Rangers in Group A.
Enyimba, CAF Champions League winners in 2003 and 2004, also have in Group D FC San Pédro (Côte d’Ivoire) and Paradou AC (Algeria). The Ivorien side will host the encounter against the Algerian club.
Mauritania’s FC Nouadhibou will be at home against Al-Masry SC of Egypt in Group A where Rangers feature.
However, despite the north Africa oppositions, Head coach of Rangers International F.C of Enugu, Benedict Ugwu, has assured the club’s numerous supporters of a sterling performance in the group stage of the competition despite having two Egyptian heavy weights and a Mauritanian side to contend with in Group A.
In a chat after the draws were concluded on Tuesday at CAF headquarters, Coach Ugwu said that it was a good draw for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ and he was positive of leading the Enugu side to its second continental triumph this season.
“It is a very fine draw for us and we fear no foe. It surely will be tough but we are physically, psychologically and spiritually prepared for the games of the group stage. Our target remains laying our hands on the trophy for a second time at the end of this season”, stated Ugwu who is popularly called ‘Surugede’ in his playing days.
Rangers will kick start the group stage of the competition with a home tie against Pyramids F.C of Egypt on December 1, 2019 with a road trip to Cairo for a date with Al-Masry on December 8 for the match day 2 encounter.
The four teams in Group A of the group stage of the competition are: Pyramids F.C of Egypt, F.C Nouadibhou of Mauritania, Rangers International F.C of Nigeria and Al-Masry of Egypt.
The seven time Nigeria league champions ended third in the group stage last season where they had two Tunisian sides and a Burkina-Faso side to contend with.
In the other groups, Horoya of Guinea, winners of CAF Cup Winners Cup in 1978 and veterans of the continent’s club competitions, will be away to South Africa’s Bidvest Wits on Match day 1 in Group B, while Al-Nasr SC (Libya) will welcome Mali’s Djoliba at a venue to be determined later.
In Group C, last year’s finalists Morocco’s RS Berkane will be at home to Benin Republic’s ESAE on Match day 1, on the same day Zambia’s Zanaco FC will be away to Daring Club Motema Pembe in DR Congo.
The group stage will be concluded on March 6, next year with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinals.
Enyimba were the last Nigerian team to advance beyond the group stage of this competition. And that was in 2018 when the People’s Elephant reached the semifinals but lost 1-3 aggregate to eventual winners Raja Casablanca.