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CAF Confederation Cup

How Rivers Utd Scaled Rayon Sports’ Hurdle

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BY SAMMY WEJINYA.

 

Ten-man Rivers United FC of Nigeria on Saturday knocked reigning Rwanda Peace Cup champions, Rayon Sports out of the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup after a drama-filled goalless draw in the return leg of the playoff round at a rocking Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.

Rayon Sports were required to win 2-0 to take the tie into extra time or 3-0 to win it outright and advance the group stage but ‘Gikundiro’ met an immovable object in the shape of the ‘Pride of Rivers’.

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United played with a man less for more than half an hour in the second half against a Rayon side back by a vociferous home crowd but grit, resolve and the never-say-die-Nigerian spirit was evident in the gladiatorial display which eventually proved to be the tide that carried Nigeria’s sole survivor in 2017 Inter CAF club competitions to safety.

United withstood predictable early pressure from the hosts and nearly silenced the Amahoro by snatching a shock lead, albeit an own goal, by Rayon Sports in the 18th minute.

Sakin did well to cross from the left but his dangerous delivery was diverted away for a corner by Jerry Mutsinzi with Guy Kuemian lurking on his shoulder.

Ten minutes later, the United players heaved a collective sigh of relief to see the score still even as Kwizera Pierrot curled a free kick inches wide from 25 yards but the boys from Nigeria seemed to exemplify men on a mission.

They hit back almost immediately through Sakin who almost gave them the lead on the stroke of half time but saw his volley fly just over Ndayisimiye Eric’s right hand post with the Rayon Sports goalkeeper in no man’s land.

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Rayon predictably stepped on the accelerator after the break but met the United rear guard in uncompromising form.

As the Rwandans pressed further up the pitch, United looked to exploit gaping holes and almost made them pay in the 54th minute when Emeka Ogbugh embarked on a mazy run on the right only to see his strike from a tight angle fly inches over the bar.

Three minutes later, Rayon Sports seemed to have been handed a lifeline as Ifeanyi Nweke received a red card for catching Savio Dominique with a high boot.

Rayon could smell blood; they honed in for the kill with wave after wave of unrelenting attacks but the Nigerians stood their ground, defending in gladiatorial fashion to produce a heroic shut out.

Nahimana Shassir almost set up a grand stand finish with a superb effort that almost crept into Rotimi’s far post late in the second half but Lady luck was wearing a white vest on the day!

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Rayon Sports head coach, Masoud Djuma was predictably downcast at full time but praised United as deserved winners of the tie.

“We lost to a better and more experienced side today and I want to say congratulations to Rivers United for their qualification,” Djuma exclusively told official www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

Technical manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma also took the time to discuss his side’s progress to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup at the club’s first time of asking.

“It was a tough match but it was what we expected. We had a tactical plan and even after we had a man sent off, we did not panic.  I am pleased that we were able to get the job done and qualify for the group stage of the competition,” he said.

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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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CAF Confederation Cup

Zamalek win African Confederation Cup on away goals

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Zamalek claimed the African Confederation Cup on away goals after a 1-0 win over Renaissance Berkane in the second leg thanks to Ahmed Hamdy’s first-half strike on Sunday.

The final ended 2-2 on aggregate following the return in Cairo with the Egyptian giants taking the trophy after scoring an away goal in last Sunday’s 2-1 first leg defeat in Morocco.

Hamdy swept the ball home after 23 minutes when Berkane failed to clear a corner but there were chances for both clubs to add more goals.

The Moroccan side finished down to 10 men when defender Hamza El Moussaoui was sent off in added time.

Sunday’s victory ensured Zamalek’s second success in the Confederation Cup. They beat Berkane on penalties after drawing the 2019 final 1-1 on aggregate.

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Egypt can complete a double in the African club competitions on Saturday when Zamalek’s arch domestic rivals Al Ahly host Esperance of Tunisia in the Champions League final second leg. The first leg in Tunis on Saturday ended goalless.

-Reuters

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CAF Confederation Cup

Shehu Dikko, Okey Obi get important roles at Confederation Cup final match

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The duo of Shehu Dikko and Okey Sylvanus Sylvanus Obi, both Nigerians have been appointed as Match Commissioner and Security Officer in Sunday’s final match of the CAF Confederation Cup in Cairo.

Dikko, the former chieftain of the governing body of the Nigeria Premier League is already in Cairo for the final match which pitches Zamalek SC against visiting Morocco’s RS Berkane.

Also already is Okey Obi is in Cairo. He is also the chief legal officer at the Nigeria Football Federation.  

The referee of the match is Issa SY. He handled the quarter-final match of Nigeria and  Angola in the Africa Cup of Nations last February. He will be assisted by compatriots, Djibril Camara and Nouha Bangoura. The fourth official is  Omar Abdulkadir Artan of Somalia.

  The Referee Assessor is Victor Miguel de Freitas Gomes of South Africa while  Joshua Robert Knipp, also of South Africa, is the General Coordinator for the match.

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The Video Assistant Referee is Pierre Ghislain Atcho of Gabon. Aliou Goloko of Senegal the initially designated Media Officer who was reportedly unavailable, has been replaced by Egypt’s Mohamed Elsesy.

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CAF Champions League

BREAKING: CAF adopts Yoruba name, “Ola” for official match ball!

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Confederation of African Football, CAF, has adopted a Nigerian language name of its official match ball for the interclubs competitions. Ahead of this weekend’s blockbuster line-up that sees Africa’s top clubs battle for  CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League top honours, the confederation and its matchball producers, PUMA have unveiled a new match ball called “OLA.”

 In a press statement, CAF explains that “OLA,” means “wealth,” “honour,” and “respect” in Yoruba, and “rise” and “success” in Arabic. It explained that the name was chosen to symbolize the dynamic and energetic nature of African football.

Embodying the spirit of Africa, Ola’s design is inspired by the continent’s vibrant colours, art, and traditions.

OLA will be used this weekend – starting in Tunis when Espérance Sportive de Tunis hosts Al Ahly of Egypt in the first leg of the  CAF Champions League Final and on Sunday when Zamalek hosts RS Berkane in the second leg of the  CAF Confederation Cup final at the Cairo International Stadium. 

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