Rugged and Dogged Confederation Cup contenders Enyimba will know their next opponent later today after surviving a fight to finish battle against equally business minded Rivers United in an all Nigerian playoff on Sunday.
The draw to the next round will hold at the CAF headquarters in Cairo Egypt at 1500 local time (1300 GMT). It will place the clubs into four groups of four with the winners and runners-up advancing to the quarter-finals.
Enyimba’s goalkeeper John Noble squeeezed past Rivers United Sunday to secure a place in the group draw.
A Fortune Omoniwari goal just before half-time in Port Harcourt earned hosts Rivers a 1-0 victory in the second leg of a playoff and levelled the aggregate score at 1-1.
After each side converted four penalties, Rivers’ Israel Emmanuel had his kick saved by Noble, who then fired past former Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai for a 5-4 shootout triumph in what could pass for battle of goalkeepers. Recall that Afelokhai moved to Rivers after losing out to Noble as first choice in the camp of the two time CAF Champions League winners Enyimba.
Enyimba were among many winners of dramatic ties with three-time African champions Raja Casablanca of Morocco also needing penalties to survive in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
Raja lost 1-0 away to US Monastir of Tunisia, having won at home by the same score, and after Mohamed Saghraoui fluffed a spot-kick for the Tunisians, Ben Malango scored to win the shootout 6-5.
Two time African champions JS Kabylie of Algeria made an equally nervous entry to the mini-league stage, pipping Stade Malien of Mali on away goals after winning 1-0 at home.
Badreddine Souyah, who scored for the Algerians in a 2-1 first-leg defeat, netted again just four minutes into the return match and it proved the only goal of a physical encounter in Tizi Ouzou.
Zambian club Nkana, who have never lost in 64 CAF home matches stretching back to 1983, suffered a 17th defeat in 18 visits to north Africa, but still survived.
Unlucky losers included Gor Mahia, the only Kenyan club to win a CAF competition, and twice African champions Asante Kotoko from Ghana.
Gor were written off after losing at home to NAPSA Stars of Zambia, but led 2-1 in Lusaka entering stoppage time and were poised to win the tie on away goals.
However, NAPSA won a penalty in the 96th minute which Emmanuel Mayuka converted for his fourth CAF goal this season and a 2-2 draw meant overall defeat for Gor.