CAF Champions League: Nigeria Put Faith In MFM FC
Mountain of Fire and Miracles Football Club are unlikely to win the 2018 CAF Champions League, but they boast the most eye-catching name among the 58 contenders.
Known as MFM FC in football circles, the Lagos-based team are funded by the popular pentecostal christian organisation Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries.
Nigeria are allocated two places on merit in the elite African club competition and they will be filled by national champions Plateau United and runners-up MFM.
The draw for the preliminary and first rounds of the Champions League will be made in Cairo on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football.
Mountain of Fire and Miracles, who play in a modest 5,200-seat stadium, boast one of the most striking football club names in Africa.
Others include 11 Men in Flight of Swaziland, Mysterious Dwarfs of Ghana, Chicken Inn of Zimbabwe, Invincible XI of Liberia and Naughty Boys of Botswana.
Nigerians hope Plateau and MFM can go far in a competition where many clubs from the African football powerhouse have made embarrassingly early exits.
Last year, Enugu Rangers and Rivers United failed to get past the first round and into the group phase with the latter surrendering a three-goal first-leg advantage.
Enyimba are the only Nigerian club to win the Champions League, lifting the trophy in 2003 and staging a successful defence the following year.
Alongside record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, they are the only three clubs to win back-to-back Champions League titles.
Ahly and five-time title-holders Mazembe are among the 58 entrants in a competition won for a second time by Wydad Casablanca of Morocco this year.
They edged Ahly 1-0 in the second leg of the final in Casablanca after exceeding expectations in Alexandria by forcing a 1-1 draw.
Esperance and Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, Entente Setif and Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, ASEC of the Ivory Coast, Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and V Club of DR Congo are other former champions in the field.
AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, Al Merrikh of Sudan, Gor Mahia of Kenya, Horoya of Guinea and Stade Malien of Mali have won second-tier CAF competitions.
The two-leg preliminary round ties are scheduled for February and the first round for March with the opening group games during May.
It requires 14 or 16 matches to become African champions with the rewards including a $2.5 million (about 2.1 million euro) prize and qualification for the FIFA Club World Cup.