If there was any doubts about the saying that the Nigerian spirit rises to the occassion against all odds, then the heroics of the Nigerian clubs in the CAF Champions League, RIvers United and Enugu Rangers this weekend surely dispel any doubts.
Last week, we asked questions about the ability of the Nigerian contingent in the continent’s premier club competition to step out of the shadows of their forebears when it comes to advancing to the next stage of the competition but the clubs answered in admirable fashion.
Nigerian Champions, Enugu Rangers ensured that they spare themselves any blushes by qualifying for the final round of the CAF Champions League preliminary stage with a hard fought goalless draw ensuring they progressed at the expense of Algeria’s J.S Sauora.
Rangers held the Algerians to a 1-1 draw away last week and every fan at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium believed the Flying Antelopes would over run the visitors. But they were given a run for their money by the gutsy Algerians, who did everything possible to get the lone goal that would have changed the equation. But they could not, as the Rangers defense thwarted all their moves.
The game showed that Rangers still have a lot of work to do if they were to join Enyimba in the list of successful Nigerian teams in the CAF Champions League.
Rangers will now face last year’s finalists, Zamalek of Egypt, in the next round of the qualifiers. Nigeria’s other representatives in the CAF Champions League, Rivers United, were in imperious form as they defeated Mali’s AS Real Bamako 4-0 at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
Bernard Ovoke netted the opener from the spot in the 29th minute, while Esosa Igbinoba added the second on 57 minutes following a beautiful pass by Ivorian striker Guy Kuemian.
Ovoke got his second of the game from another penalty on the half hour mark, while Igbinoba fired home the fourth seven minutes from time. Rivers United will face Al-Merreikh of Sudan in the next round of the competition.
For aother year, there was disappointment for Nigeria in the CAF Confederation Cup as Wikki Tourists were eliminated from the competition despite beating Royal Armed Forces Football Club of Sierra Leone 1-0 at home.
The Bauchi Elephants lost out 2-1 on aggregate. Captain Mustapha Ibrahim scored the only goal of the game from the spot in the 58th minute.
Abubakar Lawal had earlier missed a penalty in the 19th minute.
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