The Buccaneers are on the road again, far away in West Africa as they continue chasing continental glory
Enyimba FC and Orlando Pirates conclude their Caf Confederation Cup Group A campaign when they clash in a high-stakes match at Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Wednesday.
It is a crucial encounter as each side faces either elimination or progression to the Caf Confederation Cup quarter-finals.
Interestingly, all teams in this group still have a chance of reaching the knockout stage of this competition.
Currently, with six points from five games, hosts and third-placed Enyimba need nothing short of victory to confirm their place in the last-eight.
At least a draw would be good enough for group leaders Pirates to advance without worrying about the result from the other match between basement side ES Setif and Al Ahli Benghazi on the same night.
But if the Buccaneers lose, they would now have to pray that Setif beat second-placed Al Ahli Benghazi to entertain chances of going further.
|Game||Enyimba FC vs Orlando Pirates|
|Date||Wednesday, April 28|
|Time||23:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
Squads & Team News
It is not looking good for Enyimba coach Fatai Osho who guides his troops into battle without suspended captain Austin Oladapo.
The attacking midfielder is their leading scorer in this competition with three goals from seven appearances and is out after picking his third yellow card in the 1-0 defeat by Al Ahli Benghazi last week.
Also not available for Enyimba are centre-back Nelson Ogbonnaya, Dayo Ojo and Beninese midfielder Jean-Marie Guera who are nursing injuries.
But what could be some positive news for Osho is the return of the quartet of Farouk Mohammed, Samad Kadiri, Hassan Abubakar, and Imoh Obot.
Osho, however, said he will not hurry some of the returnees to start since they are coming from long injury lay-offs.
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has his selection options for the central defence and left-back widened following the return of Innocent Maela who sat on the bench against Swallows FC last Saturday after missing five games across all competitions due to injury.
After Siyabonga Mpontshane was injured in the 0-0 draw against Setif seven days ago, Zinnbauer has reserve goalkeeper Elson Sithole deputising Wayne Sandilands and would be praying for the experienced gloveman not to get injured throughout the Enyimba match.
Thembinkosi Lorch is still out injured as well as Zakhele Lepasa and DR Congo forward Jean-Marc Makusu, a situation that leaves the coach with Frank Mhango and Tshegofatso Mabaso as the only available strikers.
This is the first time for Pirates to visit Enyimba since July 2006 when the two sides clashed in a Caf Champions League Group B game.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw in Aba and Enyimba had to come from behind to secure a point against the Soweto giants.
In the return fixture two months later, Enyimba visited Pirates who edged them 1-0 with former People’s Elephant forward Onyekachi Okonkwo haunting his former team by grabbing Pirates’ winner.
The Buccaneers then continued with their dominance over Enyimba by winning 2-1 in the reverse fixture of the current campaign at Orlando Stadium on March 17.
While the Nigerians have struggled against Pirates, they, however, boast an encouraging record against South African teams in their own backyard.
In 2005 they beat Cape Town Spurs [then known as Ajax Cape Town] 2-0 in a Champions League group stage encounter.
What could worry Pirates is that the People’s Elephant upstaged Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in a Champions League Group B final match in Port Harcourt, interestingly in 2016, a season when Masandawana went on to clinch the continental title.
Then in 2018, Enyimba drew 1-1 against Bidvest Wits in the Confederation Cup, before dismissing TS Galaxy 2-1 in the same competition the following year.
This time around, Pirates arrived in Nigeria unbeaten in Group A and they face an Enyimba side which has been blowing hot and cold in this campaign in which they have lost three times already although they are yet to be defeated at home.
What would disappoint Pirates in the event that they lose is succumbing to a team coming from two straight defeats in North Africa and having their unbeaten record broken at the final hurdle.