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CAF Confederation Cup

CAF Confederation Cup: Rivers United Hope to Flow Upstream




Group A of the 2017 Confederation Cup has taken a definite pattern – Each club takes maximum point at home. Nigeria’s Rivers United will definitely wish to sustain the established order as they engage Tunisia’s Club Africain at home on Sunday.
Owing to each club winning at home, all the four teams of the group are locked on six points after the Match Day 4 encounters. Just goal differences separate them from each other.
But Rivers United has managed to score at least a goal in each of the matches. But on Sunday, the Nigerian side will need more than just scoring a goal.
The goals will have to flow like rivers for Rivers United to wash of their goal deficit and possibly be on credit as the group looks likely to be decided on goal difference when the curtain is drawn on the group stage later this month.
While Rivers United hope for a win, the club will possibly wish that the other group encounter of Kampala City Council hosting Fath Union Sports of Morocco will be deadlocked.
That way, Rivers United will with nine points, flow into the top of the log for the first time, while the duo the Ugandan and Moroccan clubs with trail with seven points each.
Tunisia’s Club Africain may then be left stranded at the bottom. But how ready are the Rivers United men?
Media Officer cum Director of Communications of the club, Sammy Wejinya, informed Sports Village Square that the players and their handlers already know the importance of Sunday’s match.
Manager, Stanley Eguma told the club’s official website, that there was no room for errors.
“We have to show a lot of concentration in the game and the players have to display commitment.
“It is a big game for us, a make or mar game so the players have to win the game and win with (a lot of) goals.
“It (failure to score plenty of goals) has been one of our predicaments (for some time) now.
“I am very optimistic that with what I have been seeing of the boys in training, the future is bright and I am sure we will have a good game on Sunday.
“I spoke to the players about this and even they admitted that it is a problem.
“For you to win a game, you must be alive for the entire 90 minutes and even beyond.
“To score one goal does not mean a match is over; you have to consolidate and also try to defend the goal. “We have been working on this (weakness) to see that we improve the endurance levels of the players.
“This group is very tough and every club is capitalizing on home advantage to amass maximum points.
“Goals will play a very big role in the final and decisive moments in this group.
“We have been working on scoring goals and we just appeal to Nigerians to keep supporting us.
Rivers United were initially feared to be handicapped on account of possible unavailability of skipper Festus Austin.
But the centre half player has dismissed such. Sports Village Square gathered from the club’s official website that the skipper remarked: “Yes, I will play on Sunday because the medical team has passed me fit to play.
“It is important to play in such a big game and I will be working hard to be at my best on Sunday.
“We played well in the reverse fixture in Tunis but we did not utilize our opportunities and were not careful enough in defence.
“But we have learned from those mistakes and will put things right on Sunday.”
But if Rivers United dreams of goals, a player who could have been relied on, Bernard Ovoke, has not lived up to his billings so far in the competition.
The winger seems to also admit to his under performance so far and promised to improve.
Hear him: “I agree with those who say I have not reached the levels I attained last season but that’s football.
“No two seasons are the same but I promise the fans that I will pick up, work very hard and achieve the objective of scoring 20 goals this season.
“We need the fans on Sunday when we face Club Africain; we need their support.
“We will beat Club Africain on Sunday because the Yakubu Gowon Stadium is our slaughter ground.
“I believe we will win a trophy this year”. The CAF Confederation Cup, introduced 13 years ago when the previous African Cup Winners Cup and the CAF Cup competitions were merged, has been elusive to Nigerian club sides, even though the former Dolphins of Port Harcourt managed to get to the final in 2005 after dropping out of the Champions League the same way Rivers United did this year.

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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