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CAF Confed Cup: Enyimba hope rising star Iwuala can cure ‘travel sickness’

Enyimba hope exciting prospect Anayo Iwuala can help cure the ‘travel sickness’ that afflicts the Nigerian team when they face Entente Setif in Algeria on Sunday in the Caf Confederation Cup.

The west Africans have lost three straight Caf away matches this season, and are about to confront opponents who must win to retain any hope of reaching the quarterfinals.

Capped for the first time by Nigeria last month, winger Iwuala, 22, enhanced his growing reputation with a brilliant dribble and perfect pass to create the winner when Enyimba beat Setif in Aba last weekend.

Here, we spotlight matchday four in the African equivalent of the Uefa Europa League, with Raja Casablanca of Morocco poised to become the first qualifiers for the knockout phase.

Group A

Twice African champions Setif have fallen far short of expectations, collecting only one point from a possible nine in what is widely regarded as the toughest of the four sections.

Recent home form offers little encouragement to the Algerian Black Eagles as they failed to score in draws with Asante Kotoko of Ghana, in a pre-group playoff, and Orlando Pirates of South Africa.

Should leaders Enyimba falter in Setif, a Pirates team captained by centre-back Happy Jele will move to the top if they win in Soweto against Al Ahly Benghazi, a club they held in Libya last Sunday.

Group B

Title-holders Renaissance Berkane of Morocco are in trouble, trailing Coton Sport of Cameroon and JS Kabylie of Algeria with two away matches to come.

The first of those is against six-time Caf title winners Kabylie, who forced a goalless draw in Berkane six days ago despite having Malik Raiah red-carded in the second half.

Coton won away to bottom club Napsa Stars of Zambia in matchday three thanks to an Abdouraman Daman goal and look set to garner another three points in Garoua.

Group C

This is the tightest section with only two points separating leaders and record three-time Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia from bottom side Salitas of Burkina Faso.

Sfaxien and Etoile Sahel failed to score in a Tunisian derby last weekend with the poor recent form of their leading scorers, Firas Chaouat and Ivorian Souleymane Coulibaly respectively, continuing.

Salitas have been forced to switch a win-or-bust west African showdown with Jaraaf of Senegal to Benin because the stadium they use in Ouagadougou has been declared unsuitable for international games by Caf.

Group D

Former Confederation Cup title-holders Raja can clinch a last-eight slot if they complete a double over 2020 runners-up Pyramids of Egypt, having won at home last Sunday.

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No one will be more determined to impress in this match than 37-year-old Pyramids goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, whose blunder led to him conceding an own-goal and gifting Raja the lead in Casablanca.

African debutants Namungo of Tanzania have struggled in such high-quality company, failing to score while losing three matches in a row, and another loss looms away to Nkana of Zambia.

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