BY KUNLE SOLAJA
The clock is ticking down to the 9 September CAF Confederation Cup fixture of AS FAR of Morocco and continental debutants, Remo Stars at the magnificent Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.
Logically, the odds weigh against the Nigerian sides who are making their maiden international venture as against the 63 year old Moroccan team.
The match coming up at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat will possibly feature the biggest away crowd that Remo Stars ever faced. More daunting is also the fact that the fans in North Africa have the notoriety of intimidating away teams.
Beyond that, AS FAR, a military sports club is one of the legacy sports outfits in the Kingdom of Morocco.
It is one of the most widely supported in Africa and one of the three founding clubs of the Moroccan League that have never been relegated since the competition began in 1956.
Under the club’s belt are 30 titles comprising 12 in the kingdom’s elite league, 12 again in the national cup called the Moroccan Throne Cup, four Super Cup victories and one each of the CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
But the intimidating profile of the Moroccan side does not really move Adedoyin Ogungbefun, the Chief Executive Officer of Remo Stars who works silently, but efficiently like a brand new air conditioner.
“We may not be the biggest team in the Confederation Cup, but we will make great impact”, he remarked at the Remo Stars Stadium which is undergoing a face lift to meet up with the expected standard of hosting a continental match.
“Our preparation began almost immediately we picked the continental ticket. We’ve appointed a new coach and we are also strengthening the squad”, Ogbungbefun remarked.
Since coming from the lower league penultimate season to shake the NPFL by picking continental ticket ahead of the Nigerian powerhouse clubs, the excitement created in the hitherto sleepy town of Ikenne has been immeasurable.
At a birthday party in the town at the weekend, the entire members of a musical band were decked in Remo Stars’ outfit.
Ogungbefun said the excitement has just begun. “With the Aiteo Cup coming to an end, some of the players we are recruiting will be reporting .”
He did not wish to give the names of the players as negotiations were still on at the time.
But ahead of the new season which the club is opening with a baptism of fire in a continental competition, Remo Stars planned some matches against selected sides in Lagos and Oyo states.
Beyond strengthening the squad that created waves last season, the home ground of Remo Stars is receiving a face-lift.
A new press conference room has been added to the complex that has been an envy to football connoisseurs. The arena boasts of one of the best pitches in the country.
In addition, there are three training pitches, almost similar to what obtains in Europe. That may not be a surprise as the owner of the arena and the club, Kunle Soname owns a thriving football club in Portugal – C.D. Feirense.
The arena boasts of a youth academy where the players are camped almost in luxury. An hotel and gymnasium are also additional facilities at the sprawling complex.
Ogungbefun, pointing at a new spectators’ stand just being added to the stadium said that the club’s management obtained pre-inspection guidelines to aid their preparation for a possible visit by CAF inspectors.
He strongly believes that there was no need to be thinking of an alternative home ground for the CAF Confederation Cup.
“We are doing everything to make the Remo Stars Stadium, a model for all. We are also working on our organisational skills to make the coming of Confederation Cup matches to Ikenne a memorable one.”