Akwa United still upbeat despite narrow victory over Belouzidad
• No hope for Nigerians, Karim boasts
Akwa United Coach, Kennedy Boboye, still believes his side will triumph over Algeria’s CR Belouizdad despite managing a narrow 1-0 win in the first leg of their CAF Champions League preliminary tie.
The Uyo-based Nigerian champions struggled for much of 87 minutes until former junior international, Ebong Friday, struck to give the Boboye-led side hope of surviving the tie.
Speaking after Sunday’s game at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Boboye acknowledged that CR Belouizdad are well drilled technically, adding, however, that Akwa United would prepare to effectively cage the Algerians in Algiers.
He said: “The Algerian side are highly technical. They have been in this tournament for three to four times. You can’t take it away from them.
“This is our first time in the Champions League. There is no how we would have got what we wanted in a space of four weeks. The Algerians have been together for four years.
“We will go there with a different formation. What we need is an attacker who can hold the ball. If we can’t score, let’s try to keep the one we have. We haven’t got the qualities needed upfront. If we play to instruction and the formation to be used, the team should perform well.”
Boboye blamed the absence of some of his players for the outcome of the game, praying that some of the key stars would have returned before the second leg.
“This is what we have got. Most of these players we tried to get didn’t come. We can’t stop players from travelling. It’s unfortunate that we started the tournament very early. We haven’t been able to play together for a long time. By the time we surpass this stage, we would be better than before.”
While Boboye still believes that Akwa United will scale the Algerian hurdle, CR Belouizdad Head Coach, Beketi Karim, said the Nigerians have come to their final bus stop.
According to Karim, who acknowledged that Akwa United are a good team, the home game would bring out the true colours of Belouizdad. He said: “We performed well, gave everything and tried our best. The return leg should be in our favour.
“The team played better in the first half and looked tired at the second stanza. On the whole, we have learnt our lesson.
“Akwa United gave us a lot of problems, but we will correct our mistakes and regain our rhythm in the second leg.”
“We have forgotten about the game and will go back to the drawing board. The aim in Algiers is getting a positive result.”