Which Nigerian sides have won the CAF Champions League?

Which Nigerian sides have won the CAF Champions League?
Credit: Icon Sport

Continental football returns this weekend to commence the start of the 2023/24 CAF Champions League and two Nigerian clubs, Enyimba and Remo Stars, will be representing the country in the continental event.

Nigeria is considered one of the powerhouses of African football having won multiple AFCON titles in the men and women’s categories.

However, that dominance has not translated into success at club level as not many Nigerian clubs have achieved success on the continent.

To be clear, lots of Nigerian teams have participated in the CAF Champions League in the past and not only that, even in the CAF Confederations Cup; but success in these competitions have seemingly proven to be so difficult for the participating teams.

It took thirty-eight years after the commencement of the biggest club football competition in Africa before a Nigerian team achieved success.

The NPFL club that won the CAF Champions League

CAF Champions League: Enyimba vs Orlando Pirates, 2021
Credit: Icon Sport

Enyimba is a club that has dominated the Nigerian top-flight league over the years and they happened to be the only NPFL side to have conquered the continent in time past, doing so in succession; first in 2003 and next one in 2004.

The record NPFL holders did it in interesting fashion with two different coaches, imagine that? First with legendary Kadiri Ikhana who took the team all the way to emerge African champions in 2003, before another astute tactician in the person of Okey Emordi who guided the team to another triumph in 2004.

If anyone has told a follower of the league at the time that it will take more than a decade before the next team will win, it would have ended in a debate. But only has it taken a decade, it has gone past it and doesn’t look like it will happen soon.

While North African teams have coveted winning of the various CAF competitions, Nigeria and other West African teams have struggled immensely notably because of how the domestic leagues have been run over the years, affecting these clubs' performances on the continent.

Since Enyimba won successive CAF Champions League titles in 2003 and 2004, no Nigerian club has managed to achieve the same feat, leaving many Nigerians asking “when will another Nigerian team win it?”

In fact, Nigerian clubs barely make it to the knockout phase of CAF competitions as there has been one disappointment after another since Enyimba's last triumph in 2004.

The People's Elephants not only won the competition twice, they made two further appearances at the semifinal stage of the competition in 2008 and 2011.

Another Nigerian team came so close to winning the CAF Champions League

In the 2008/09 season, two Nigerian teams Kano Pillars and Heartland FC were paired in the semifinal of the CAF Champions League with Heartland making it to the final.

Heartland squared off with one of Africa’s best teams in TP Mazembe, and lost on aggregate to the Congolese giants. Since then, no Nigerian team has gotten to the tournament's final.

Sunshine Stars of Akure went as far as the semifinal under Segun Ogunbote but fell short of reaching the final in the 2011/12 season.

Performance of Enyimba in the CAF Champions League

The nine-time NPFL winners have made twelve appearances in the CAF Champions League since its first appearance in 2002.

Here is a rundown of how Enyimba have fared in the competition:

2002: Second round

2003: Champions of the continent (First ever triumph)

2004: Champions of the continent

2005: Group stage (Last 8)

2006: Group stage (Last 8)

2008: Semifinals

2011: Semifinals

2014: First round

2015: First round

2016: Group stage (Last 8)

2020: First round

2023/24: Yet to update*

This article was most recently revised and updated 6 months ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.