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CAF Confederation Cup

Rivers United Edge USM Alger In Confederation Cup First-leg –

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Rivers United Edge USM Alger In Confederation Cup First-leg -

Rivers United secured a crucial 1-0 victory over USM Alger of Algeria in the first leg of their  CAF Confederation Cup quarter-final clash in Nigeria on Sunday.

Augustine Okejepha emerged as the hero for the home side, breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute with a clinical strike from the edge of the box at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.

Abubakar Adamu’s well-executed assist from a corner kick set the stage for Okejepha’s decisive goal, putting the home side in the lead early in the match.

Despite USM Alger’s efforts to contain Rivers United, the Nigerian team’s physical dominance proved to be a significant factor throughout the game.

USM Alger struggled to match the intensity of their opponents who looked eager to score more goals.

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However, the arrival of rain after 70 minutes provided a brief respite for the Algerian side, allowing them to regroup and minimize the damage to a single-goal deficit by the final whistle.

Looking ahead to the second leg in Algiers on April 7, USM Alger face an uphill battle as they seek to overturn the deficit and secure passage to the semi-finals.

With home advantage on their side, USM Alger will be determined to mount a strong comeback and keep their hopes alive in the competition but judging by the performance of Rivers United, they will also put up a strong challenge in Algiers next week.

The stakes are high for USM Alger, with qualification to the next round offering an opportunity to continue their title defence and pursue continental glory.

In the event of qualification, the overall winner of this tie will face the winner of the double confrontation between Abu Salim and RS Berkane in the semi-final.

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-CAF

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

Dreams FC dreams coming true? … secure goalless draw against Zamalek in Cairo

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Ghana’s team in the CAF Confederation Cup, Dreams FC, is living up to their name. The continental debutants are indeed dreaming dreams. If this is a dream, please don’t wake them up. They have just upset one of the powerhouses in Africa.  

The Egyptian giants Zamalek failed to make their dominance count as they were held to a goalless draw by  Dreams FC in the first leg of their  Confederation Cup semi-final in Cairo on Sunday.

The White Knights enjoyed the better of the chances in Cairo but lacked a cutting edge in the final third against their well-organised opponents.

Portuguese coach Jose Gomes will be concerned by his side’s profligacy ahead of next Sunday’s return in Kumasi, where an away goal for Dreams could prove pivotal.

Zamalek applied plenty of early pressure, with Shikabala, Mostafa Shalaby and Ahmed Hamdi all going close to breaking the deadlock before the midway point of the first half.

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Dreams goalkeeper Solomon Agbasi had to be alert to keep out efforts from Shikabala and Travis Mutyaba as Zamalek’s wastefulness in front of goal continued.

The visitors started to gain a foothold and went close through John Antwi, whose powerful strike was well blocked by the impressive Hossam Abdelmaguid.

Shalaby was replaced by Benin international Samson Akinyoola at the break but Zamalek’s frustrations mounted, with the hosts struggling to carve out clear-cut openings.

Akinyoola dragged an effort wide before Shikabala forced a smart save from Agbasi as the offside flag repeatedly came to Dreams’ rescue.

There was still time for Ibrahima Ndiaye to rattle the crossbar late on, but ultimately Zamalek could not find a way through the stubborn Ghanaian rearguard.

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Dreams will fancy their chances of reaching the final on away goals if they can shut out Zamalek again in Kumasi next weekend.

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CAF Confederation Cup

Algeria’s USM may forfeit Confederation Cup duel to Morocco’s RS Berkane

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RS Berkane players stranded at the Houari Boumediene Airport in Algeria

The anticipated tense Confederation Cup first leg semi-final fixture of USM Alger and Morocco’s RS Berkane did not hold as scheduled on Sunday night following the confiscation of the Moroccan team’s jerseys and equipment by the Algerian aughorutues despite CAF’s spirited efforts to see the items released.

The Confederation has now issued a statement that the matter has been referred to the ‘competent bodies’. CAF apologized for any inconvenience caused to their sponsors, TV partners and the supporters. 

It is most likely that the Algerian team would forfeit the match. The Algerians lately have turned the African football arena into political field such that the Moroccan team as defending champions of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) were denied entry to defend their title last year in Algeria.

Similarly, in the quarter-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup with Nigeria’s Rivers United, the Algerians frustrated the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) by confisticating the CAF equipment.

CAF issued the following statement over the incident early this month: “Due to circumstances beyond CAF’s control, there will be no Video Assistant Referee (VAR)  technology at the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup fixture USM Alger and Rivers United in Algeria today.

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“For the last few days, CAF has been negotiating with Algerian Authorities to release the VAR equipment that has been kept by Authorities at the entry Port in Oran, Algeria since Wednesday morning.

“Regrettably, the VAR equipment was only released at 19h30 today making it impossible to drive the 400km distance between Oran and Algiers and make it on time for the match.”  

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CAF Confederation Cup

CAF compels Algeria to release Morocco’s RS Berkane equipment

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The contentious jersey

Algeria’s USM Alger may get a technical knockout from the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final first leg match slated for Sunday if Algerian authorities continue their seizure of jerseys and equipment of Morocco’s RS Berkane.

The Moroccans arrived Algeria on Friday but had their equipment and  jerseys seized on account that the attires are depicting a complete map of Morocco with the southern provinces. 

This led to the Moroccan delegation getting stranded at the Houari Boumediene Airport in Algiers, as they demanded the the return of their jerseys and sports equipment confiscated by Algerian security forces before entering Algerian territory.

CAF has now intervened and informed the Algerians thus: “We wish to inform you that the committee has decided that the jersey in question complies with CAF Statutes and regulations.

“Therefore, we hereby inform you that the club RS Berkane is authorized to use the jerseys during the mentioned match.

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“In this regard, we request the Algerian Football Federation to take all necessary measures to facilitate the release of the equipment in question from customs as a matter of urgency in order to avoid disrupting the organizational aspects of the match. We count on your usual cooperation.”

The match, the first leg of the semi-finals of the Confederation Cup is scheduled for 5pm, on Sunday.

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