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Coach hopes lure of Europe can lift South African CAF Cup minnows

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Enyimba, TS Galaxy. Photo: GOAL

TS Galaxy of South Africa coach Dan Malesela is using the bait of potential European contracts to inspire his side ahead of a CAF Confederation Cup clash with Enyimba of Nigeria Sunday.

The David-versus-Goliath showdown is one of 16 first legs in play-offs that will decide who qualifies for the group stage of the second-tier African club competition.

Galaxy is a second division team that qualified for Africa by stunning Kaizer Chiefs in the domestic cup final while Enyimba has won four CAF titles, including the Champions League twice.

Enyimba, the most decorated Nigerian club in CAF competitions, will be expected to build a lead at home in southeastern city Aba ahead of the return match next weekend.

But Malesela believes the possibility of reaching the group phase, which would give his stars a chance to attract attention from European scouts, could lift Galaxy to new heights.

“Reaching the play-offs would be great because many of those matches are monitored by scouts from European clubs,” said the 54-year-old former star.

“Although we have not set any targets in the Confederation Cup, the longer the side stay in the competition the better for everyone.”

Galaxy is the only qualifiers for the play-offs with a perfect four-victory record, but the home and away wins did come against modest opponents from the Seychelles and Madagascar.

Enyimba were among 16 clubs demoted from the Champions League after losing final round qualifiers for the group stage.

Patchy form saw them lose narrowly away and score five unanswered goals at home against rookies Rahimo of Burkina Faso before drawing 0-0 and losing 1-0 to Al Hilal of Sudan.

‘Pointless exercise’
Reuben Bala and Stanley Dimgba scored twice each against Rahimo in Nigeria, but Malesela has not pursued any video analysis of Enyimba.

“I actually prefer not to study footage of opponents as it can be a pointless exercise,” he said. “You watch a team and they have a different line-up and style a week later.”

Both South Africa and Nigeria have two contenders with Bidvest Wits away to UD Songo of Mozambique in Maputo while Enugu Rangers face ASC Kara of Togo in Lome.

Wits are seeking a maiden group appearance after six failed attempts while Enugu will be wary since Togo eliminated Nigeria last weekend in a 2020 African Nations Championship qualifier.

Asante Kotoko of Ghana are the other former African champions among the 32 challengers and they face San Pedro of the Ivory Coast, who bowed in the play-offs last season.

The line-up also has four former holders of the now-defunct African Cup Winners Cup, DC Motema Pembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Enugu, Gor Mahia of Kenya and Horoya of Guinea.

Horoya, quarter-finalists in the last two editions of the Champions League, host Bandari of Kenya in Conakry while Gor and Motema Pembe meet in Nairobi.

Big-spending Egyptian side Pyramids are away to Young Africans of Tanzania, who have moved the fixture from their traditional Dar es Salaam base to Mwanza on the shore of Lake Victoria.


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