Leopards ready for Wolves challenge
Black Leopards will continue their African adventure on Sunday when they take on Nigerian side Warri Wolves in a 2012 CAF Confederation Cup second round, first leg, clash at the Warri Township Stadium.
Lidoda Duvha gained entry into the continental competition via their appearance in the final of the 2011 Nedbank Cup, where they lost 3-1 to Orlando Pirates.
As The Buccaneers had already earned their spot in the CAF Champions League by winning the Premiership, the ticket to the CAF Confederation Cup, normally reserved for the cup winners, was given to the Limpopo side.
And Leopards have certainly not disappointed. They have already come through two rounds against strong opposition, first defeating Zimbabwe’s Motor Action 3-1 on aggregate in the preliminary round, which included an excellent 2-0 success in Harare.
After that they met St Eloi Lupopo from the DR Congo and following a 4-2 home win in the first leg, managed to secure a 2-2 draw in Lubumbashi to seal their passage into the second round.
Wolves will be a much tougher prospect though, especially given their excellent home record which has seen them suffer just one defeat in their last 71 NPL and CAF Confederation Cup matches on their own patch. That single defeat came in an NPL fixture against Enyimba back in December 2009.
And Wolves have won all four of their previous continental club competitions games at home, conceding just one goal in the process. It is a daunting task for the visitors.
Leopards will be led on their mission to West African by technical director Sunday Chidzambwa.
With head coach Vlad Heric unable to travel for health reasons and assistant coach Abel Makhubele in Germany on a coaching course, it means the experienced Zimbabwean will be back in charge of the side in Nigeria having led the team at the start of the campaign.
Not that Leopards spokesman Tendani Thidiela believes this change at the top will adversely affect the side.
“We’re in a privileged situation to have a man with an extensive coaching CV in Africa, and an added advantage is that coach Sunday has been travelling with the team recently and is up-to-date on players’ form and our pattern of play.”
Club captain Mongezi Bobe says Leopards have done their homework on their opponents and adds they are under no illusion as to the task at hand.
"We already have some information on them, which we will discuss when we get there," Bobe said. "It will be tough but we will have an idea of how we will play them and where their strong points are.
“We have a Nigerian in our team, Joshua Obaje, who has been giving us some valuable information on them. Our aim remains the same, to go all the way to the final.
"We did well in Congo under hostile conditions and against their [St Eloi Lupopo] crowd. Hopefully, we can use that moment as inspiration to pull us through in coming back with a good result in Nigeria," he added.
One big boost for the side is the return to fitness of experienced Ugandan goalkeeper Posnett Omony, who will travel with the group.
“It’s a great relief for us to have Posnett back in action ahead of such a crucial,” Leopards owner David Thidiela said.
“Posnett is experienced and has featured in CAF competitions in the past. With him back there is no doubt we will win. The plan is to get a minimum of two goals so that we will formalise Warri Wolves’ elimination in two weeks’ time in Limpopo.”