BY SAMMY WEJINYA.
Nigeria’s sole survivor in Africa’s inter-clubs competitions, Rivers United, continue the battle to get to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup by having a 2-0 win over visiting Rayon Sports of Rwanda on Sunday.
A stupendous goal by Ivoirian marksman, Guy Kuemian was the highlight of Rivers United’s 2-0 victory over Rayon Sports in a CAF Confederation Cup game decided in Port Harcourt on Sunday.
The Nigerian club won courtesy of Kuemian’s extraordinary finish early in the second half and Emeka Atuloma’s sweetly-struck effort just before half time to put themselves in control of the playoff tie.
United came into the game in fine form following successive wins in domestic competition against ABS FC and Abia Warriors.
The confidence that stemmed from those wins was evident in their aggressive start against Rayon Sports on a hot and humid day at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
Emeka Ogbugh should have scored in the fourth minute when he turned his marker inside out only to drag his effort inches wide from eight yards.
Six minutes later, the ‘Pride of Rivers’ enjoyed a gilt-edged opening but the chance to get an early breakthrough went up in smoke as Bolaji Sakin hit his effort straight at the Rayon Sports goalkeeper, Ndayishinye Eric.
The visitors were meanwhile looking assured in possession, menacing in the final third and were unlucky not to score on two occasions inside the opening 25 minutes.
Sunday Rotimi was the saviour for United both times and in the first instance on 12 minutes, his heroic block saved the hosts embarrassment following a poorly-executed offside trap.
The veteran goalkeeper was in exemplary form again in the 23rd minute as he saved well to deny the dangerous Kwizera Pierrot at the second time of asking from 25 odd yards.
Those missed opportunities would prove fatal for Gikundiro (nickname of Rayon Sports) as United took the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute through Atuloma who had been booked just moments earlier for an act of petulance.
The defensive midfielder timed his run to perfection to meet a cross with a brilliant half volley that left Ndayishinye with little chance.
Kuemian rounded off the scoring with his best ever goal for United, out of nothing, to underline his status as one of the most extravagantly-gifted marksmen in Nigeria’s top football division.
The Ivoirian came close to completing his brace and giving United an even bigger margin of victory late on following a howler from Ndayishinye but lost his footing at the opportune moment.
Technical Manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma spoke to the club’s official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng after the game.
“It was a highly tactical game and I am pleased with our win in the end.
“However, this is not the time to celebrate as we still have to see out the second leg,” he said.
Nothing has been decided yet as the two sides meet again on April 22 at imposing 30,000 capacity Amahoro Stadium, Kigali for the return fixture.
The prize for the victors, over two legs, is a place in the group stage of the competition.