The battle for a place in the next round of the CAF Champions League begins this weekend as two-time winners of the competition Enyimba brace for a tough first leg, preliminary round fixture against Vipers Sport Club of Uganda at the Nakivubo Stadium on Friday.
The Ugandan champions will hope to shrug off the loss of Captain Farouk Miya to Standard Liege of Belgium in order to earn a morale boosting victory against the reigning Nigerian champions.
Keziron Kizito will be influential for the hosts in midfield having been pivotal in the last campaign. Mike Mutyaba, William Wadri, James Alitho, John Ssemazzi, Pius Wanji and Erissa Ssekisambu have also acquired the needed experience to give the Nigerian side a tough task on match day.
Vipers have won eight, drawn four and lost three in their last sixteen games in the ongoing Uganda Premier League. They are second on the log with 28 points.
Meanwhile, Enyimba won two, lost two and drew two games during the recently concluded Super Four pre-season tournament in Nigeria as they finished second behind eventual champions Akwa United and they will be without their talisman, Mfon Udoh for the game in Kampala.
The form of Christian Pyagbara, Andrew Abalogu, Dare Ojo, Chinedu Udoji and Stephen Chukwudi might be enough to fire the Paul Aigbogun-led side to victory on the road, but their defensive record hasn’t been endearing in the least.
They have scored five times with their opponents plundering four goals in their last six matches, an indication that are most likely to score against their hosts as much as they are likely to concede.
Aigbogun will look up to Pyagbara to boost his side’s hopes of winning after the former Sharks forward scored two goals in the Super Four.
Vipers play on the counter with their trusted 4-1-4-1 formation which has led to their rise in the last three years, but there could be some change in tactics seeing as they have a new coach in George Best Nsimbe, who might try to be a bit more offensive.
But for Aigbogun, his focus might be on pressing the ball higher up the pitch like he mostly does, which could see him stick to his preferred 4-4-2 pattern, but that formation is hardly ideal when playing away on the continent, so there might be some change of systems to the more pragmatic 4-5-1 which will avail them more men in the middle.
The People’s Elephants left Nigeria on Tuesday aboard an Ethiopian airline flight and arrived in Addis Ababa, before connecting a Kenya Airways flight to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. They arrived the Entebbe International Airport at around 11.58pm local time and were received by officials of Vipers.
Tickets will be sold at Nakivubo main gate on match day beginning at 12pm local time at five thousand Ugandan Shillings (5000/- for open stands) and ten thousand Ugandan Shillings (10,000/- for pavilion).
The highly anticipated game will get underway on Friday by 4pm local time, which is 2pm Nigerian time. The return leg holds in Nigeria in the next fortnight.