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Rivers United eye Champions’ League Group Stage



Rivers United which will face perennial continental competitors, Al-Merrikh of Sudan in the next round of the CAF Champions League are confident of retaining the form that saw them pummel Malian side, Real Bamako last Sunday.

According to the Media Officer of the club, Sammy Wejinya, midfielders:  Bernard Ovoke and Esosa Igbinoba have both spoken about their happiness following starring roles in Sunday’s CAF Champions League defeat of AS Real Bamako.

The duo helped themselves to braces as United outclassed the Malian side 4-0 in the second leg, preliminary round clash at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.

Ovoke explained that the weight of expectation as he prepared to take a 35th minute penalty which saw him open the scoring never weighed him down.

“I was not nervous before I took that spot kick. I am never nervous in such situations.


“All I was thinking about was making sure I hit the ball as hard as I could.

“It is a privilege to be the first ever Rivers United player to score in the CAF Champions League,” he told the club’s official website,

Igbinoba also spoke about his goal scoring contributions.  The midfielder said it was pleasing to score while adding that the big win over the Malians was not as easy as the score line suggested.

“I wasn’t happy that I had not scored for the club in my previous matches so to score twice in such an important match means a lot to me.

“It was a big win but the match was very difficult for us, especially in the first half.


“The turning point was our second goal. I think they gave up after that,” he said.

Rivers United will face Sudanese club, Al-Merrikh, over two legs, in the first round of the competition.

The first leg will be played in Port Harcourt on March 12 with the return fixture taking place at the Al-Merrikh Stadium, Omdurman a week later. The winner of the tie will qualify for the group stage of the competition.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and the country’s most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022.

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