JOHANNESBURG - Nigeria's Enyimba advanced to the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup at the expense of reigning South African league champions Bidvest Wits following a goalless draw in Calabar on Wednesday night.
Enyimba clinched the tie on the away goals rule, having held Wits to a 1-1 stalemate about two weeks ago in Johannesburg. It’s the third successive year that the Clever Boys fail to make it into the group stages of a continental tournament.
They had been relegated to the Confederation Cup play-offs after Primeiro de Agosto of Angola beat them on penalties in the game that decided which team who between the two sides would play in the Champions League group stages.
Wits drew first blood in the first leg through winger and veteran Daine Klate, but Ibrahim Mustapha equalised minutes later, giving the Nigerians a crucial away-goal, which has now subsequently proved to be enough to help them progress to the next stage.
Although Wits rested some of their regulars for this trip to Calabar, coach Gavin Hunt still managed to field quite a strong team, which spoke to the club’s depth.
Moeneeb Josephs got a rare start between the posts, and was supported by Buhle Mkhwanazi, Bongani Khumalo, Reeve Frosler and Keegan Ritchie in a back four. Edwin Gyimah and Daylon Claasen filled central midfield, while Sifiso Myeni and Klate played out on the wing. Eleazer Rodgers and Thobani Mncwango were tasked with getting the goals upfront, but didn’t manage to do so.
Wits were looking to use this game to also bounce back from two back-to-back defeats in the Absa Premiership. Those results have hurt their chances of climbing into the top eight of the domestic league before the end of the season.
They will return home to face relegation threatened Polokwane City on Sunday and hope they do enough in the final four matches to break into the top eight bracket.