Home Sports Football CAF Champions League: Wydad wallop Nigerian champions, Rivers United

CAF Champions League: Wydad wallop Nigerian champions, Rivers United

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Blame it on the fixtures, blame it on questionable refereeing, blame it on any other factor, but the fact is that, for the fourth season in a row, Nigerian teams have failed to reach the group stage of the CAF Champions League. Lobi Stars were the last Nigerian side to play at the group stage in the 2018/19 season. But the Makurdi-based team crashed out at that phase.

Rivers United, the last hope of the country in the competition this season, took a come-from-behind 2-1 advantage to Casablanca but got bashed 6-0 (7-2 aggregate) by defending champions Wydad. Before their triumph last year, the Moroccan side had won the CAF Champions League on two other occasions – 1992 (then known as African Cup of Champions Clubs) and 2017.

Ayoub El Amloud cancelled Rivers’ first leg advantage in the 33rd minutes with the first goal of the night, while Yahya Jabrane made it 2-0 for the home side in the 45th minute.

At the restart, Wydad increased the tempo and struck four more times – twice by Bouly Sambou (50th and 58th minutes). Yahya Jabrane banged the fifth goal in the 70th minute, while Hamid Ahdad struck the last goal in the sixth minute of added time.

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For Nigeria, it may even get worse. Unless either Rivers United or Plateau United, both now relegated to the CAF Confederation Cup, hold their own in the playoffs round, Nigerian fans will have to watch the teams from Uganda, Tanzania, Angola and Sudan challenge their counterparts from South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia battle for honours in the continent.

Lobi Stars, together with Enyimba (2015/16) and Sunshine Stars (2011/12) are the only Nigerian club sides to have progressed to the group stage of the competition in the last 12 seasons (the ongoing season inclusive). Of the trio, only Sunshine Stars reached the knock-out stage, losing 3-4 aggregate to record title holders Ah-Ahly in the semifinals of the 2011/12 edition.

Plateau United – the other Nigerian representatives in the CAF Champions League this season – were eliminated on Saturday, no thanks to an 83rd minute controversial penalty decision by centre referee Ibrahim Nour El Din of Egypt. Ben Romdhane stepped up to beat keeper Suraj Ayeleso and win the second leg for Espérance, who had won the title four times.

In the first leg in Abuja, Plateau United came from a goal down to beat the Tunisian side 2-1. With the lone goal defeat in Rades, the Nigerian team lost on away goal rule.

Nigeria registered two teams for the CAF Confederation Cup – Remo Stars and Kwara United.

In their first outing in Africa, Remo Stars went to Morocco and fought veterans of continental competitions AS FAR to a deadlock. Five minutes into the second half, Adams Olamilekan cancelled the hosts’ earlier goal, which Diney had scored in the 27th minute. But in the reverse fixture six days later at Remo Stars Stadium in Ikenne-Remo, the home side failed to lift their game and lost 0-1 through Joseph Guédé Gnadou’s 56th minute strike that silenced the fans.

Kwara United, who finished fourth in the domestic league and were only registered for the competition because of the non-completion of the Aiteo Cup, survived their first opponents AS Douanes of Niger Republic winning 3-0 aggregate – 3-0 at home and goalless away.

Winning the first leg of second round 3-1 against Morocco’s RS Berkane in Lagos gave hope that the Harmony Boys would survive their illustrious opponents, who won the CAF Super Cup last month and have two CAF Confederation titles to their credit. But in Berkane six days later, the Tunisians, who are the defending champions, got what they wanted – two un-replied goals to kick out the Nigerian side.

In the CAF Champions League group stage are reigning champions Wydad Casablanca, their city rivals Raja Casablanca; serial champions Al Ahly and another team from Egypt, Zamalek; Tunisia’s Espérance; Algerian pair JS Kabylie and CR Belouizdad; and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundown.

These teams, except Belouizdad have 28 titles between them either as CAF Champions League or its precursor, the African Cup of Champions Clubs.

The other qualifiers for the CAF Champions League group stage are Al Hilal (Sudan) and Al Merrikh (both Sudan); Petro de Luanda (Angola), Horoya (Guinea), Simba (Tanzania) and Vipers (Uganda).

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2 Comments

  1. vorbelutrioperbir

    8 March 2023 at 6:30 am

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