By Oluwaseun Ajidagba
Following the successful hosting of the Oldest Cup Competition in Nigeria on Sunday, October 15,
2017 at the Agege Stadium (A.K.A Soccer Temple) the line-up is now complete for teams that
would be representing Nigeria at the next edition of CAF Champions League and CAF
Confederations Cup. They include: 2017 Nigeria Professional Football League Champions Plateau
United and Runners-Up Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Football Club are to ruffle
shoulders with the best in Africa in the CAF CL while Enyimba of Aba who finished in Third Place
during the regular NPFL season and Akwa United, Champions of the maiden AITEO Cup would all
jostle for honors in the CAF Confederations Cup.
The big question that is on the minds of Nigerians is how experienced are our campaigners on the
continent, and can they give us a decent representation? Now It is time to do a proper SWOT
Analysis Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of our 4 teams.
Taking a good look at Plateau United who won the league for the very first time in the club’s history
and for neutrals, football enthusiasts and the media they were deserved winners of the season and
as a result of that remarkable feat they would be competing in the CAF Champions League alongside
traditional teams such as Al-Ahly of Egypt, Esperance of Tunisia, Al-Merrikh of Sudan, Es-Setif of
Algeria, Zamalek of Egypt and TP Mazembe of DR Congo but again it is dependendent on whether
they can scale the preliminary hurdles, first round before dreaming of the money spinning group
stage where the big boys find themselves. But if the past trends where our teams hardly get into the
group stages is anything to go by then Plateau United might have just have the feel good factor of
playing on the continent by playing just two matches and get knocked out. My opinion is that the
Coach Kennedy Boboye and the team do not have continental experience, it becomes a huge factor
to consider but I pray that the luck of the drwas would favor them.
MOUNTAIN OF FIRE AND MIRACLES MINISTRIES FOOTBALL CLUB
The Church based team have a sweeter story of qualifying for CAF Champions League than Plateau
United because just last season which was their debut season they escaped relegation on the final
day by defeating Ifeanyi Ubah 1-0 and fast forward to this season Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, has led
his rookie team to compete on the biggest stage in Africa. After pouring all the eulogies it is time to
get down to business and the question is, does MFM FC have the ingredients to go toe to toe with
the big boys or would they be contented with just playing collecting some dollars and then get
knocked out in the qualifying or first round? Except the Coach bolsters his squad with experienced
campaigners on the African continent like Enyimba did in 2003 & 2004 when they won it, then the
normal cliché of “Thanks for Coming” might just surface because praying from now till when the
competition starts would not change anything.
ENYIMBA FOOTBALL CLUB
“Aba Millionaires” as they are fondly called narrowly missed the CAF Champions League ticket to
MFM FC by a single point but in a Confederation Cup I know they would not mind. Much as we
agree that of all the 4 teams playing on the continent they seem to be the most reliable and vastly
experienced going by their achievements, we must not hurriedly forget that 2 seasons when they
dramatically qualified via penalties against Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia into the group stage of CAF CL
they failed to qualify from that group. But are there doubts that they would do well certainly not
going by the caliber of players paraded. More importantly after lending UJ Esuene Stadium of
Calabar and Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt for the past two years the club chairman, Mr.
Felix Anyansi-Agwu, confirmed they would return to play in front of their home fans on their
favorite ground Aba Township Stadium. If Coach Gbenga Ogunbote is giving a war chest and a free
hand to operate which also includes recruitment of quality players then the “Aba Elephants” can
add CAF Confederations Cup to their collection of laurels.
AKWA UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB
This would be the second time they would be appearing on the African continent after the 2015
disaster. Though the Audu Maikaba led side narrowly missed automatic CAF Confederations Cup
ticket when they finished 1 point behind Enyimba but got qualification through the back door
when they defeated Niger Tornadoes to lift the maiden AITEO Cup. It is evident that the Akwa Ibom
based side have a much improved team compared to 2015 when they first featured on the
continent but they still need nothing less than 7 seasoned campaigners on the continent to meet the
height attained by the likes of FUS Rabat of Morocco, CS Faxien of Tunisia, Stade Malien of Mali, AC
Leopards of DR Congo and Hearts of Oak of Ghana.
After the objective analysis of our 4 continental teams my honest submission is that aside from
Enyimba who are two-time CAF Champions League winners. It is likely that other teams would
struggle to make a huge impression on the continent and that might likely impact on our coefficient
being affected or reduced.