Warri Wolves…We Will Give Leopards ‘3SC Treatment’
In 1992, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan, won the maiden CAF Cup, beating Nakivubo Villa of Uganda 3-0 in the final after a goalless first leg.
But the Ibadan ‘warlord’ had to weather through the storm on their way to the final, after losing 0-2 to a Tunisian side in the semi-final.
Apart from the defeat in Tunisia, five of their key players, including goal poacher Tarila Okorowanta, Dotun Alatise, Benjamin James and Taofik Malik escaped in Rome, Italy, while on transit on their way home.
The return leg at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan, was full of drama, as 3SC quickly over turned a 2-0 deficit to win 3-0.
In that game, old horse, Felix Owolabi, came from retirement to pilot the club to victory, providing the last goal from a corner kick. Twenty-three years on, another Nigerian club, Warri Wolves FC, have found themselves in what appears to be a more difficult situation.
Wolves, the only Nigeria’s surviving club in continental assignment this year, have a mountain to climb to make the group phase of the CAF Confederation Cup, as they were walloped 3-0 in their first leg by Congolese club, AC Leopards, last week.
The return leg comes up on June 6 at Warri City Stadium, and players and officials of Warri Wolves say there is nothing to worry about.
“It looks difficult, but we will do all we can to bring the Congolese to their knee,” an official of Warri Wolves, Lawrence Omoghor, told The Guardian during the week.
Before their trip to Congo Brazzaville, Warri Wolves had enjoyed a good run of form in their away games.
It was surprising to see them crashing to the 3-0 defeat, which means they must beat Leopards 4-0 to move on to the group stage.
Sadly, no Nigerian club has won the CAF Confederation Cup in its present format, and hopes of Warri Wolves breaking the jinx, is being threatened.
The Referee totally killed the game in Congo and I pray we are able to surmount the situation on June 6 in Warri. They scored two good goals in the first half, and just when we thought we had reduced the deficit, the Referee disallowed our goal and that took its toll on our game. He went on to award Leopards a penalty that shouldn’t have been. If our goal had stood, it would have been a big advantage for us ahead of the return leg. Its unfortunate though, but I believe we can make something happen on June 6. I want Nigerians and our supporters in particular to believe in the team.
On return from Brazzaville last week, players and officials of Warri Wolves lamented over what they termed ‘poor’ officiating by the match officials from Ghana.
Joseph Odartei Lamptey was the centre referee in Congo, with Malik Aidu Salifu and David Laryea as AR1 and AR2 respectively. “I don’t like complaining about referees, but sincerely speaking, the officiating we witnessed in Congo, was a big shame.
It contributed so much to our defeat. “But we have put that behind us, and we are looking forward to the return leg in Warri. The players have vowed not to let Nigerians down.
They want to win this trophy for the good people of Delta State, particularly Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for his financial and morale support to the club over the years. To achieve our dream, we have to cross the hurdles by beating Leopards.
We will do it and we need the support of all Nigerians” Omoghor said. Super Eagles goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, who was in goal for Wolves in their 3-0 defeat at the Stade Denis Sassou Nguesso in Dolisie, Congo, says the return leg on June 6 is a mission possible.
Speaking with The Guardian, Akpeyi, who had played against the Congolese Leopards in his days with Heartland FC of Owerri, said that apart from the ‘very hostile’ reception given to them in Dolisie, the officiating was disgraceful.
“The Referee totally killed the game in Congo and I pray we are able to surmount the situation on June 6 in Warri.
They scored two good goals in the first half, and just when we thought we had reduced the deficit, the Referee disallowed our goal and that took its toll on our game. He went on to award Leopards a penalty that shouldn’t have been.
If our goal had stood, it would have been a big advantage for us ahead of the return leg. Its unfortunate though, but I believe we can make something happen on June 6. I want Nigerians and our supporters in particular to believe in the team,” Akpeyi said.
Wolves Media Officer, Moses Etu, also contended that a goal scored by U-23 star, Etebor Oghenekaro, ought to have stood, but the referee ruled otherwise.
Two of their players went for same aerial ball, and the ball fell in the path of Etebor, whose shot was deflected into their net. Only God knows why the referee cancelled it.
“We have started preparation for the return leg and by the grace of God, we will overcome them on June 6,” Etu said yesterday. Warri Wolves missed the services of goal puncher, Super Eagles attacker, Gbolahan Salami, in the first leg in Congo due to card offences.
“Salami will be available in the return leg and we hope things will work out fine, though we have a big challenge ahead of us. Leopard are not better than us, and I am sure we will beat them in the return leg and qualify to the group stage,” Etu added.
Apart from aiming a place in the group stage, players and officials of Warri Wolves also feel that losing the second leg to Leopards on June 6 might see all their financial entitlement since the beginning of their continental matches this season go down the drain.
Governor Uduaghan had told the players and their officials before their trip to Congo that the club’s budget for the continental campaign had been approved. “If we fail to make it to the group stage, I am sure we might not get those financial entitlement.
You can see the reason why everybody want to put in extra effort for us to beat Leopards on June 6 so that the incoming governor (Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa), will be happy to release our money on time,” one club official told The Guardian yesterday.