CAF: Plateau, Kwara crash, Rivers walk tight rope


Abiodun Adewale.

Nigeria’s hope of having a club in the group stage of the CAF Champions League for the first time since 2012 now rests on the shoulders of 2022 Nigerian Professional Football League champions, Rivers United.

The last time a Nigerian club featured in the first tier of Africa’s club football was in 2012, when Sunshine Stars FC of Akure reached the semi-final.

If Rivers United must break the 10 years jinx, they will have to get past defending champions, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the second leg of their second preliminary round game at the 67,000 capacity Mohammed V Stadium, Casablanca on Sunday.

“It’s tight, but I’m very optimistic too. It’s a difficult terrain, but it’s football, not mathematics. I know a lot of people will write us off, but I want to let you know that it is not yet over.

“Within us, we know that we have a big fight to do and I’m assuring you that we will not go there to sleep but to work and also put them under severe pressure to see that we get passage through to the group stage” Eguma said.

While Rivers United seem motivated, Wydad on the other hand are also feeling the pressure of the need to win at home against Rivers in order to avoid a shock elimination from the premier African club competition, which would see them drop into the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.

Meanwhile both Plateau United and Kwara United failed to advance to the next round of the competition after both teams suffered defeats in their reverse fixtures.

Plateau United lost 1-0 to former champions, Esperance of Tunisia in the second leg of their final preliminary match on Saturday.

The NPFL side crashed out on away goal rule, after both legs ended 2-2.

Plateau United won the first leg 2-1 in Abuja, before losing the second leg by a lone goal in Tunisia.

An 83rd minute penalty by Ben Rohmdane was all Esperance needed to undo Plateau United, after Egyptian Ibrahim Nourendinne adjudged Ifeanyi Emmanuel to have fouled Ben Hammouda inside the box.

Plateau United have now dropped to the second tier; CAF Confederations Cup and will now await the draw coming up on Tuesday to determine who they will face among the 16 teams that will progress into the final round.

Also, Kwara United lost 2-0 in the second leg crashing out 3-3 on away goal rule.

In other CAF Champions League preliminaries, ten times Champion, AL Ahly of Egypt beat Monastir of Tunisia by 3-0 just as Al-Merreikh of Sudan edged Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya on away goal rules after both legs finished 3-3 on aggregate.

Pyramids of Egypt were big winners in the Confederations Cup preliminary round, thumping Al Hilal of Sudan by 7-0 to advance 9-0 aggregate.