LOBI STARS, RANGERS BEGIN JOURNEY TO CONTINENTAL GLORY

LOBI STARS, RANGERS BEGIN JOURNEY TO CONTINENTAL GLORY

BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

 

Nigerian clubs begin their campaign for continental glory this Wednesday, a day after some of their counterparts across Africa would have kicked off the 2018/19 edition of CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.

 

In order to align with international football calendar, CAF will run its season from August to May next year. The transitional schedule therefore runs from this month and ends next May.

 

Nigerian teams have failed to do well in Africa in recent years and the federation will therefore have one club in each of the two club competitions. In the CAF Champions League, Premier League winners Lobi Stars will file out on Wednesday at Stade Municipal de Loum, a city in the Littoral Province of Cameroon. Their opponents will be Union des Mouvements Sportifs de Loum (UMS de Loum, for short)

 

On the same day, Federation Cup champions Enugu Rangers will host Ethiopia’s Defence Force in the CAF Confederation Cup.

 

Lobi Stars will be playing in Africa for the fifth time in their 37 years existence. It was not until 2000 that the Makurdi-based side first featured in a CAF competition. They were eliminated in that year’s group stage of the CAF Champions League after finishing third among Ghana’s Heart of Oaks, Al-Ahly of Egypt and ASC Jeanne d’Arc of Senegal.

 

Four years later, Lobi Stars were knocked out at the second round of CAF Confederation Cup, just as they did in 2006 and even performed worse in 2012 with a first round elimination.

 

Founded in 2011, UMS de Loum won their first Cameroon Cup three years ago by beating former CAF Champions League winners Coton Sport, three-time African Cup of Champions Clubs title holders Canon Sportif de Yaoundé and Union Doula on their way to the final where they defeated Panthère du Ndé 2–0.

 

The Cameroonian side lost in the preliminary round of CAF Champions League last year and the first round of the Confederation Cup in 2016.

 

Runners-up behind Coton Sport in the Cameroon top flight concluded last July, UMS de Loum have not had a competitive match since then, while Lobi Stars featured in the Nigerian SuperCup match as recent as last Tuesday beating Federation Cup champions Rangers 1-0 at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.

 

In that SuperCup fixture, Lobi Stars tried out new players including Lobi handed starts to new signings Sikiru Alimi (ex-Sunshine Stars), Alex Aghahowa (formerly El-Kanemi Warriors), Chile Azu (from Go Round FC) and Samuel Mathias (El-Kanemi Warriors).

 

AS Vita Club of DR Congo await the winners of Lobi Stars/UMS de Loum pair in the first round.

 

For Rangers, they were in continental competition as recent as last year but could not go beyond the first round of the CAF Champions League. The Flying Antelopes managed to beat Algeria’s JS Saoura on away goal rule at the preliminary stage but lost 3-5 aggregate to Zamalek of Egypt in the next round.

 

Relegated to the Confederation Cup thereafter, Rangers still couldn’t go far as Zambia’s ZESCO United triumphed 5-2 aggregate in the playoff round.

 

Rangers only hurrah in Africa was winning the CAF Cup Winners Cup in 1977. Ten appearances in the CAF Champions League (including in its precursor, the African Cup of Champions Clubs), four in the Confederation Cup and two in the CAF Cup have seen Rangers gone only as far as the final in 1975 in the African Cup of Champions Clubs.

 

In the off-season, Rangers acquired new players including Michael Uchebo, who was in the Super Eagles squad to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He re-joined the club after a few years unattached.

 

Gbenga Ogunbote, a veteran Nigerian coach, lead Rangers who are fired up to win. “We don’t have any option but to win on Wednesday against Defence FC,” goalkeeper Femi Thomas agrees.

 

The Ethiopian club featured in last year’s CAF Confederation Cup but got knocked out at the preliminary round. Before then, they had travelled as far as the quarterfinals of the 1976 CAF Cup Winners’ Cup. They also got eliminated at the first round in the 1977 edition of the African Cup of Champions Clubs and CAF Confederation Cup in 2007.

 

Also known as Mekelakeya, Defence Force’s last competitive match was on November 4 when they beat Debub Police 2-1 away in the first match of the 2018/19 Ethiopian Premier League season.

 

Whoever win between Rangers and their Ethiopian opposition will face either Algeria’s USM Bel Abbès or LISCR (Liberia) in the first round.

 

Tuesday’s fixtures…

2018/19 CAF Champions League (Preliminary round first leg)

  • Volcan Club (Comoros Islands) v African StarsFC (Namibia) (1pm)
  • Stade Centrafricaine (Central Africa Republic) v Stade Malien (Mali) (3pm),
  • ASAS Djibouti Télécom (Djibouti) v Jimma Aba Jifar (Ethiopia) (4pm)
  • ASF Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) v Coton Sport (Cameroon) (4.30 pm)
  • AS SONIDEP (Niger Republic) v ZESCO United(Zambia) (4:30pm)
  • CS Constantine (Algeria) v GAMTEL (Gambia) (5pm)
  • Al-Nasr (Libya) v Al-Hilal Juba (South Sudan) (5pm)
  • ASC Diaraf (Senegal) v US Koroki (Togo) (6pm)
  • Township Rollers (Botswana) v BantuFC (Lesotho) (6:30pm)
  • JS Saoura (Algeria) v SC Gagnoa (Côte d’Ivoire) (7pm)
  • Ittihad Tanger (Morocco) v Elect-Sport (Chad) (8pm)
  • Al-Hilal (Sudan) v JKUSC (Zanzibar) (8pm)

 

2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup (Preliminary round first leg)

  • Mtibwa Sugar (Tanzania) v Northern Dynamo FC (Seychelles) (2pm)
  • Kariobangi Sharks (Kenya) v Arta Solar 7 (Djibouti) (2pm)
  • USM Bel Abbès (Algeria) v LISCR (Liberia) (3:30pm)
  • FC San Pédro (Côte d’Ivoire) v Armed Forces FC (Gambia) (5pm)
  • Nouakchott King’s (Mauritania) v Stade d’Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) (6pm)
  • Hassania Agadir (Morocco) v AS GNN (Niger Republic) (6pm)
  • NA Hussein Dey (Algeria) v Diables Noirs (Congo Republic) (6pm)
  • Salitas FC (Burkina Faso) v WakiryaAC (Guinea) (7pm)
  • Petro de Luanda (Angola) v Orapa United (Botswana)
  • Green Eagles (Zambia) v Young Buffaloes (eSwatini)
  • Ashanti Kotoko SC (Ghana) v Eding Sport (Cameroon) (Ashanti Kotoko SC gain walkover)

 

Wednesday’s fixtures…

2018/19 CAF Champions League (Preliminary round first leg)

 

  • UMS de Loum(Cameroon) v Lobi Stars (Nigeria) (3:30pm)
  • CNaPS Sport (Madagascar) v FC Platinum (Zimbabwe) (12:30pm)
  • Le Messager Ngozi (Burundi) v Ismaily (Egypt) (2pm)
  • UD Songo (Mozambique) v Nkana(Zambia) (2pm)
  • Simba (Tanzania) v Mbabane Swallows (eSwatini) (2pm)
  • APR FC (Rwanda) v Club Africain (Tunisia) (2:30pm)
  • Leones Vegetarianos (Equatorial Guinea) v Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) (3pm)
  • 1º de Agosto (Angola) v AS Otôho(Congo Republic) (4pm)
  • Gor Mahia (Kenya) v Nyasa Big Bullets (Malawi)(5pm)
  • ASEC Mimosas (Côte d’Ivoire) v AS Mangasport (Gabon) (5pm)
  • FC Nouadhibou (Mauritania) v Al-Ahly Benghazi (Libya) (6pm)
  • Horoya (Guinea) v Barrack Young Controllers (Liberia) (6pm)
  • Orlando Pirates (South Africa) v Light Stars FC (Seychelles) (6.30pm)
  • Al-Merrikh (Sudan) v Vipers (Uganda) (both 6:30pm)

 

 

 

2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup (Preliminary round first leg)

 

  • Enugu Rangers (Nigeria) v Defence Force SC (Ethiopia) (4pm)
  • Miracle Club (Comoros Islands) v Al-Ittihad (Libya) (1pm)
  • Free State Stars (South Africa) v Mukura Victory Sports (Rwanda) (2pm)
  • Green Buffaloes (Zambia) v Al-Merreikh Juba FC (South Sudan) (2pm)
  • New Star FC (Cameroon) v Vital’O FC (Burundi) (3pm)
  • AS CotonTchad (Chad) v Gomido FC (Togo) (3.30pm)
  • DC Motema Pembe (DR Congo) v Anges de Fatima (Central Africa Republic) (3.30pm)
  • Cercle Mbéri Sportif (Gabon) v Silver StrikersFC (Malawi) (3:30pm)
  • Génération Foot (Senegal) v Djoliba (Mali) (5:30pm)
  • Al-Ahly Shendi (Sudan) v AS Nyuki (DR Congo) (6pm)
  • Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa) v Zimamoto FC (Zanzibar) (6:30pm)
  • ASSM Elgeco Plus (Madagascar) v Deportivo Unidad (Equatorial Guinea) (6.30pm)

 

 

 

1 Comment on this Post

  1. olabode Samuel

    Thanks for information but please try to always provide correct information hence verify your news very well before publishing.
    Lobi Fcis not meeting Vita fc in the second round. the club will meet the winner between Gor-Mahia fc of Kenya and Nyasa Big Bulletts of Malawi in December, 2018. Please correct this information. Thanks

    Reply

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