Rangers, Rivs United to know Champions League opponents Wednesday

Nigeria champions Enugu Rangers who are still basking from their land and cash gifts from the Enugu State governor and runners-up Rivers United will on Wednesday know their opponents in next year’s Confederation of African Football Champions League. The draw for the competition is scheduled for today in Cairo, Egypt.

Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi rewarded Rangers with a plot of land each as well as a total sum of 41.5m on Tuesday.The plots of land are located at the Rangers Estate in Enugu.

Rangers last featured in the competition in 2013, while Rivers United as Dolphins played in the tournament in 2012.

Title-holders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa are among eight winners of the League who will compete in the premier African club competition next season.

Only Al Ahly of Egypt, TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Enyimba of Nigeria have staged successful defences since the 1964 launch of the Champions League.

Ahly (2005-2006 and 2012-2013) and Mazembe (1967-1968 and 2009-2010) twice won back-to-back titles. Enyimba, the only Nigerian outfit to conquer the continent in the premier club competition, triumphed in 2003 and 2004.

Sundowns scored financially, pocketing $1 million after two matches in Japan. They played 14 matches to conquer Africa and collect $1.5m.

A huge incentive for Sundowns and the rest of the 2017 field is increased financial rewards in a new format with first prize increasing by 66.6 percent to $2.5m.

The runners-up will receive $1.25m, semi-finalists $875,000, quarter-finalists $650,000 and the eight group qualifiers who fail to make the knockout stage $550,000 each.

The preliminary rounds of the Champions League will begin in mid-February with the group stages slated for May. Next year, the Champions League will be played on a new format with 16 teams drawn into four groups of four clubs playing a mini-league.

The top two teams in each group will qualify for the quarterfinals to be played on a knockout basis.

Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Confederation Cup, Wikki Tourists and FC IfeanyiUbah will also be drawn in the preliminary rounds of the competition.

No Nigerian club have won this competition since it was founded in 2004.