20 February 2017
It was mixed fortunes for Nigerian Clubs participating in the Confederation of African Football, CAF, Continental Competitions last weekend as the two teams in the Champions League progressed to the next round while the two clubs in the second-tier, Confederations Cup, crashed out.
NPFL Champions, Rangers International of Enugu played out a goalless draw at home with JS Soura of Algeria in the second leg tie of the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League to progress to the first round of the competition.
After securing a 1 – 1 draw in Algeria, the Nigerian Champions needed to avoid defeat or any score draw at home to qualify for the next round, a feat they successfully achieved in front of their home fans at the Cathedral, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu.
The Flying Antelopes missed a number of chances in the encounter and were constantly frustrated by JS Soura’s goalkeeper who put up a fine performance.
The match was Rangers’ 50th in the competition and they became the third Nigerian team after Enyimba and Heartland to play 50 matches or more in the CAF Champions League.
Rangers face last year’s finalists, Zamalek in the first round. The winner will book a place in the money spinning group stage of the competition.
Nigeria’s second representatives, Rivers United trashed AS Bamako of Mali 4 – 0 at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt to qualify for the first round.
After the first leg ended goalless in Mali, the Pride of Rivers were condemned to secure a victory of any margin to stand a chance of going through to the next stage.
Bernard Ovoke put Rivers ahead from the spot in almost half of an hour mark. Esosa Igbinova added the second in 57th minute while Bernard Ovoke scored again from the spot on the hour mark to make it 3 – 0.
Esosa Igbinova got his second of the day, seven minutes from regulation time to compound the woes of the Malians.
Rivers United will now face Sudanese side, Al-Merreikh in the next round of the competition. The winner will head to the group stage.
It was a sad story for the country’s two representatives in the CAF Confederations Cup as both teams crashed out at the preliminary stage.
Wikki Tourists secured a slim 1 – 0 win over RSLAF FC of Sierra Leone at the Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi but the win was not enough for the Bauchi Elephants to progress.
After suffering a 2 – 0 defeat last weekend, the Coach Babaganaru tutored side needed to beat RSLAF of Sierra Leone by at least 3 – 0 to stand any chance of making it beyond the preliminary round.
Captain Mustapha Ibrahim scored the only goal of the game from the spot in the 58th minute but Wikki had an earlier attempt in the 19th minute from the spot that was missed by Abubakar Lawal.
Despite dominating proceedings from start to finish, the MA boys could not convert their chances.
It was Wikki’s first win in the competition after three games but the 1 – 0 win was insufficient as they crashed out 2 – 1 on aggregate.
Nigeria’s other representative, FC Ifeanyi Uba lost 0 – 3 on penalties to their Egyptian opponent, El-Masry to exit the competition.
After winning the first leg by 1 – 0 in Nnewi, a draw of any margin in Egypt would be enough to see the Anambra Warriors to the next round.
However, the big spenders lost 1 – 0 in regulation time courtesy of Ahmed Skori’s goal from the spot on the 24th minute.
The match ended 1 – 0 in regulation time and with 1 – 1 on aggregate, it headed to extra time which also produced no goal. After 120 minutes of football action, the match headed to penalties.
Al- Masry scored all three spotkicks while FC ifeanyi Ubah failed to convert any of theirs.
This is the first time in history that there will be no Nigerian team in the First Round of the CAF Confederations Cup.