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Rangers get two Tunisian top sides in CAF Confederation Cup draw

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Enugu Rangers are on course to qualify for the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Nigeria’s representative in the CAF Confederation Cup, Enugu Rangers were yesterday drawn against two top Tunisian sides, Etoile du Sahel and CS Sfaxien, as well as Burkina Faso’s Salitas in the group stage of the competition.

Rangers defeated Bantu FC of Lesotho by 4-2 on aggregate to qualify for the group stage of the competition.

They will now play in Group B alongside former African champions, Etoile du Sahel and their compatriots, Sfaxien. Salitas is the unknown quantity in the group, but coming thus far means they are not a side to be written off.

However, pundits have tipped the Tunisian sides to qualify from Group B, while Rangers and Salitas are ranked as outsiders.

Enyimba of Aba met Etoile du Sahel in the semifinal and final matches of the 2003 and 2004 CAF Champions League respectively on their way to winning Africa’s top club competition back to back.

Sfaxien have won the Confederation Cup a record three times, while Etoile, who were given a bye into the group stage, have lifted the trophy twice.

All three Moroccan challengers in the competition were drawn in the same group, including holders Raja Casablanca, Renaissance Berkane and Hassania Agadir, who are in Group A alongside AS Otoho Oyo of Congo Brazzaville.

Zambia also has two teams in Group C in Nkana FC and Zesco United, who will contend with Al Hilal of Sudan and Ghana’s Asante Kotoko of Ghana.

Meanwhile, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi has praised the country’s two representatives in this season’s African club continental competitions, Lobi Stars of Makurdi and Enugu Rangers for their efforts so far in their respective contests.

Lobi Stars prevailed over US Loum of Cameroun and Gor Mahia of Kenya in the preliminary rounds of the CAF Champions League to reach the money–spangled group stage, and have thus far won one (against Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa) and lost one (against ASEC Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire) of their two matches in the group stage, while looking ahead to their tie against Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club in the half way mark of the stage.

 
Rangers in the CAF Confederation Cup overcame teams from Ethiopia, Algeria and Lesotho to qualify for the group stage, where they are now paired alongside Etoile Sahel FC, CS Sfaxien (both of Tunisia) and Salitas FC of Burkina Faso.
 
“I want to commend the clubs for their efforts so far in the continent. Both Lobi Stars and Rangers International have been doing well and the NFF and indeed Nigerian ball fans are proud of them.

“However, the road ahead is much rougher. Rangers will be playing two experienced campaigners from Tunisia in the group stage, and we know how tough a challenge the North African teams can pose. It means that Rangers must raise their game against these two and against the Burkinabes to reach the quarterfinals.
 
“Lobi Stars put up a commendable performance in Abidjan against ASEC Mimosas though they lost by the odd goal. Now, they must lift their morale to pick the three points against Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco in order to boost their chances of a place in the quarter finals.”
 
Sanusi believes the opportunity now presented to Lobi Stars to play in front of their home fans, following the completion of the runway of the Makurdi Airport, will invigorate the players to even better performance in subsequent matches.
 
“Certainly, playing in front of their home fans will be bigger boost for the Lobi Stars. I have confidence that they will go all the way in the competition.
 
“Rangers International also have the capacity to overhaul the continent and bring back memories of their African Cup Winners Cup triumph in 1977.”

     
 


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