Enyimba coach, Fatai Osho, has thrown down the gauntlet to the 15 other CAF Confederation Cup contenders by declaring that his Nigerian club can lift the trophy this season.
Ahead of matchday 1 on Wednesday when the last Nigerian team to win an African club competition host Libyan outfit Al Ahly Benghazi, he said: “We have a good chance of winning this competition. Enyimba are title contenders and not just participants. We have what it takes to go all the way and become the first Nigerian winners of the Confederation Cup.”
Here, AFP Sport sets the scene ahead of the first eight group matches in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
Enyimba, Entente Setif of Algeria and Orlando Pirates of South Africa are all former African champions and Benghazi did well to qualify given they could not play at home for security reasons.
Home advantage should ensure Enyimba start with a victory, while Setif have to host Pirates in Ghana because of Algerian coronavirus regulations.
A Pirates team coached by German Josef Zinnbauer are alone among the title contenders in boasting a 100 percent Confederation Cup record this season and not conceding.
Title-holders Renaissance Berkane of Morocco will look to 35-year-old Mouhcine Iajour for goals when they face unbeaten Zambian visitors NAPSA Stars, who debuted in Africa this season.
A professional career that began in 2003 took the consistent scorer to Italy, Belgium, Qatar and Saudi Arabia before joining Berkane last year.
JS Kabylie of Algeria, who won the last of six CAF titles in 2002, meet Coton Sport of Cameroon, who travel to Tizi Ouzou having won all three away matches in Africa during this campaign.
This section is expected to be dominated by Tunisian clubs CS Sfaxien and Etoile Sahel, who between them have appeared in seven Confederation Cup finals, winning five.
Record three-time title-holders Sfaxien boast a star goal poacher in Firas Chaouat and it would be a shock if they did not secure maximum points at home to Salitas from Burkina Faso.
Etoile, who also possess a regular scorer in Ivorian Souleymane Coulibaly, must host Senegalese side Jaraaf in Tunis because their stadium in Mediterranean resort Sousse is being enlarged.
Zambian outfit Nkana have never lost at home in 64 CAF matches, but a woeful record in north Africa makes them underdogs against 2020 Confederation Cup runners-up Pyramids of Egypt in Cairo.
When a team captained by Zimbabwean defender Kevin Moyo lost a playoff second leg at Tihad Casablanca of Morocco last month it was their 17th defeat in 18 visits to the region, with the other match drawn.
Raja Casablanca hosting Namungo of Tanzania is a David versus Goliath affair with the Moroccans having won seven CAF titles while the Tanzanians are competing in Africa for the first time.