Bayelsa Queens: For Nigeria, will it be another AS FAR bridge too far?
BY KUNLE SOLAJA
When Nigeria’s Bayelsa Queens face hosts, AS FAR of Morocco tonight in the semi-finals of the CAF Women’s Champions League, beyond the quest for championship ticket, vengeance should be oozing out of their veins.
AS FAR is a club beloging to the Royal Army – the Association sportive des Forces armées royales.
This is a strong army Nigerian football clubs have found difficult to overcome. There have been seven Nigerian clubs, cutting across generations and gender that have been dealt with by AS FAR.
Remo Stars were the latest victim among men’s club. Last year, at the inaugural edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League in Egypt, AS FAR beat Nigeria’s Rivers Angels 3-0.
Will Bayelsa Queens also make the numbers of AS FAR victims? Only Heartland as Iwuanyawu Nationale ever escape from the artillery of AS FAR.
Even then, it was through the lottery of penalty shootout at the semi-finals of the old styled Africa Cup of Champions Clubs in 1988 when the Nigerian side prevailed 5-3 on penalties after 4-4 aggregate scores.
Before then, AS FAR had in 1968 eliminated Staionery Stores over three legs in the old styled Champions League.
Stores won the first leg 1-0 in Lagos but lost the return match in Rabat 2-1. Nether the away goal rule nor penalty shootout was in operation then.
A third match was played in Dakar Senegal by mutual agreement. After the match finished 2–2 when extra time expired, AS FAR won by drawing of lots.
After that of Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1988, the next Nigerian sides to face AS FAR were the Wikki Tourists in the 1999 edition of the now discontinued African Winners’ Cup. At the quarter final stage, Wikki Tourists crashed out 3-0 on aggregate.
But in the 2009 Champions League, Iwuanyanwu Nationale ousted the Moroccans after winning 3-1 at home and forcing a 1-1 draw in Rabat in the second round of the competition.
AS FAR again faced Dolphin of Port Harcourt and Enugu Rangers at the 2005 Confederation Cup. The Moroccans ousted Rangers on away goal rule at the play-off stage. The encounters ended 2-2.
In the final, Dolphins lost 3-1 on aggregate. Remo Stars are the latest victims. After forcing an impressive 1-1 draw in Rabat, they crumbled 0-1 at home in the first round of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Will Bayelsa Queens avenge for the other Nigerian clubs?