Bendel Insurance beat Aso Chlef in Algeria, qualify for Confederation Cup second round
Decision Day For Enyimba In Aba, Remo Stars Seek Winning Punch In Ikenne
Benin Arsenal, Bendel Insurance, yesterday, defied the odds to beat Aso Chlef of Algeria via penalties to qualify for the second round of the Confederation Cup.
Not many people tipped Bendel Insurance to survive in Algiers following their laboured 1-0 win in the first leg at home in Benin; but the boys showed yesterday that their unbeaten run in the Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL) last season was no fluke.
Although they lost the return leg by the same 1-0 margin, they held their nerves to win the ensuing penalty shootout 4-3 to the dismay of Algerian fans, who trooped out en masse to cheer the home team.
Following Insurance’s win yesterday, Nigeria will attempt to put two more teams in the second round of CAF competitions when Enyimba battle with Al Ahly Benghazi of Libya in Aba and Remo Stars take on Ghana’s Medeama in Ikenne today in the Champions League.
Two-time champions, Enyimba of Aba, need only a goal victory to qualify for the next phase of the competition on the away goals rule, but they know that a difficult game awaits them.
The Peoples Elephants scored three goals in the away leg of the tie, but a leaky defence, which conceded four goals, let them down. Now all they need is score a goal and defend well to qualify for the second round of the competition they won back-to-back in2003 and 2004. They need total concentration throughout 90 minutes to rejoice at the end of the game.
One of Enyimba’s goal scorers in the away leg, Chijioke Mbaoma, is confident that the Nigerian champions will make the cut despite Al Ahly Benghazi’s pedigree in the game.
“We are not satisfied, but we have to be satisfied with ourselves and look forward to the next step,” Mbaoma said. “They played and won at home. Now is the time for us to play with our fans behind us and show them what we can do too.”
Nigeria’s second side in the CAF Champions League, Remo Stars, also need a win at home to make the second round, but in their case, they need two unreplied goals, having lost the away leg 0-1 to Medeama of Ghana a week ago.
The away game would have ended 1-1 had Sikiru Alimi not missed a glorious chance for an equaliser in the match.That defeat by Medeama was Remo Stars’ first loss in 14 competitive games, an ‘anomaly’ Coach Daniel Ogunmodede would want to correct in Ikenne today. But he knows that playing at home does not guarantee victory as Remo Stars’ last home game in the continent ended in a 0-1 loss to AS FAR of Morocco.
Although Medeama and AS FAR are not of the same class, at least in African club football, pundits believe it would be suicidal for Remo Stars to take the ambitious Ghanaian team for granted.
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