The odds may favour two-time Caf Champions League winners, Enyimba International FC, to outlast Beninese champions Buffles du Borgou FC (BBFC), but coach Kadiri Ikhana is not counting his eggs before they are hatched, with Sunday’s preliminary round match just by the corner.
The six-time Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions are hoping to go all the way this term having failed to reach the group stages for a first time in 2014 since their inaugural participation in 2002.
The 2003 and 2004 champions were knocked out in the first round by AS Real Bamako of Mali on away goals rule, following a 2-1 home loss and a 1-0 win in Bamako.
But coach Ikhana, who coached the ‘Peoples Elephants’ to their maiden title in 2003, is “confident” his team will deem deeper in the forthcoming campaign, however, warns against complacency.
“The key is to prepare adequately so that we are not taken by surprise,” Ikhana told reporters.
“There are no small teams in the CAF club competitions and we must treat our opponents seriously in order to achieve a good result.”
He added that the relative short distance between Nigeria and Benin makes the preliminary round draw a “good” one for the Aba outfit “because of the limited travel involved”.
The Nigeria Federation Cup holders were part of the expanded Super 4 pre-season tournament and also played pre-season friendly matches which include a 4-0 thrashing of fellow Glo Premier League side and city rivals Abia Warriors.
Striker Mfon Udoh, who scored a record 23 goals in the Glo Premier League last season, will lead Enyimba’s attack as they seek to dominate the first leg at the expense of debutantes BBFC.