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CAF Confederation Cup

CAF Confederation Cup: Rivers United Return to Reckoning

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BY SAMMY WEJINYA

 

Nigeria’s lone survivor in CAF’s inter club competition, Rivers United, have returned to reckoning in the Confederation Cup after recording a 1-0 win over Moroccan club, Faith Union de Sportive (FUS) on Wednesday.

Emeka Atuloma scored the game’s decisive goal, 19 minutes from the end, turning home Zoumana Doumbia’s free kick with the FUS defence failing to clear their lines, to hand three crucial points to the hosts.

United had the better goal scoring opportunities in a cagey first half but few were of a clear-cut nature.

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Emeka Ogbugh was the first to have a sight of the FUS goal but he shot wildly in the 16th minute after goalkeeper, Aymane Majid successfully foiled John Odumegwu’s attacking run on intent.

The ‘Pride of Rivers’ began the second period on the front foot and were almost ahead two minutes after the restart when Ogbugh rose highest in the opposition half to head Obomate Frederick’s corner inches wide.

Substitute, Onoriode Odah, full of running and activity all afternoon, shot wide from a tight angle seconds later after showing FUS’ Elmehdi El Basil a clean pair of heels as United introduced urgency, hitherto missing in a largely-dour first half, into their game.

Atuloma was to decide matters in the 71st minute as he reacted in lightening fashion to steer home from two yards amidst claims by the visitors that the goal was scored from an offside position.

FUS, previously content with sitting back and containing wave after wave of Rivers United attacks, then altered their tactics dramatically, playing offensive with speed and intelligence, in a bid to hurl themselves back into the contest.

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They almost claimed an equalizer in the 86th minute when an uncharacteristic Festus Austine error allowed Abdelssalam Benjelloun have a clear sight of goal.

The Moroccan duly curled a left-footed effort that seemed destined for the bottom corner only for the Rivers United goalkeeper, Sunday Rotimi to produce an extraordinary save to push the ball away for a corner.

It was a huge let off for the Nigerian side as the Stadium held its collective breath.

With spaces opening up as the visitors pushed farther up the pitch, Rivers United almost put the game to bed with a stunning counter attack in the 89th minute but Odah, at the tip of the spear, saw his goal-bound shot pushed away onto the post by Majid and away for a corner.

The win at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt means Rivers United and all other three sides in Group A, FUS Rabat, Club Africain and Kampala CCA are now level on three points after their first three matches.

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Match Statistics: Rivers United versus FUS Rabat.

Rivers United: Sunday Rotimi, Markson Ojobo, Doumbia Zoumana, Emeka Atuloma, Festus Austine, Ayobami Asekunuwo, Emeka Ogbugh, Guy Kuemian {(Onoriode Odah 35′ (Gabriel Olalekan 90’)}, Odumegwu John (Bolaji Sakin 73′)  Ayo Saka and Obomate Frederick.

Substitutes Not Used: Abiodun Akande, Gabriel Wassa, Godbless Asamoah and Christian Weli.

 

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FUS Rabat: Aymane Majid,  Abdessalam Benjelloum,  Mahiri Mohammed, Elmehdi El Basil,  Ass Mandawsy, Nayef Aguerd,  Ibrahim El Bahri (Karim Benarif 70′),  Badri Boulharoud,  Ayoub Skouma (Elmehdi Bettache 86’),  Mohammed Fouzair and Yousoupha Om Njie (Mehdi Khalis 76′).

 

Substitutes Not Used: Youness Azziadi,  Yassir Jarici,  Ibourahima Sidibe and Mohammed Saoud.

 

Yellow Card: Ibrahim El Bahri 57′.

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Goal: Emeka Atuloma (Rivers United, 71′)

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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