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CAF Champions Leag

Rangers join Rivers United in Champions League Crash



Enugu Rangers followed Rivers United in crashing out of the CAF Champions League on Sunday after struggling to a 2-1 defeat of Zamalek of Egypt at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu.  Aggregate score line of 3-5 in favour of the Egyptians means that Enugu Rangers have dropped into play-off for a place in the CAF Confederation Cup.

The exit of the duo form the Champions League may affect the number of teams Nigeria will register next year.

Zamalek have also added the Enugu war loads to the list of causalities that the Egyptian club has eliminated from continental championship. Before Sunday’s elimination of Enugu Rangers, Zamalek had twice overcome Shooting Stars in 1984 and 1997, Super Stores in 1993, Kwara United in 1999 and Enyimba in 2016.

The Egyptians, apparently aware that the home side would put up an attacking strategy from the beginning tried to curtail the early incursion of Enugu Rangers. It was almost at the dot of half time that Rangers were able to pull a goal back through Tope Olusesi.

With just two more goals needed to cancel out the Egyptians, Rangers again began the second half pressing to increase the tally.


Zamalek goalkeeper Mahmoud Abdel Rahim, who is better known as Genesh, pulled off a double save after restart as Rangers continued their dominance.

With his side trailing, Mohammed Helmy, the Zamalek coach, introduced striker Bassem Morsy in the 62nd minute as the visitors looked to equalize. The Egypt international made an immediate impact as he scored to level matters against Rangers eight minutes later.

However, Rangers pushed forward in search of another goal in order to restore their lead and they were awarded a penalty with fifteen minutes left on the clock. Godwin Aguda then stepped up and first past Genesh to make it 2-1 to Rangers.

But Zamalek stood firm at the back in the dying minutes and the hosts won 2-1. Also on Sunday, the defending champions, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo suffered a shock exit from the competition losing on the away-goals ruling to Zimbabwe’s CAPS United in Harare.

Mazembe were under pressure after being held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-32 tie at home in Lubumbashi last weekend.


The away-goal proved to be crucial for CAPS United who withstood the pressure from Mazembe in the second leg in Harare, earning a 0-0 draw. Mazembe, won the African Champions League in 2015, were left frustrated by the Zimbabwean underdogs on Sunday in their search for a goal.

As in the first leg in Lubumbashi, CAPS United’s goalkeeper, Edmore Sibanda, stood firm to deny the DR Congo giants a chance to score. It means Mazembe now drop into the African Confederation Cup play-off round, where they will look to defend the title they won in 2016.

The result is a huge accomplishment for CAPS United of Zimbabwe who have returned to the African Champions League after an 11-year absence. They will now enter the group phase of the tournament which has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs.







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 Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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