Plateau, Rivers, Kwara United set for battle royale with N’African giants
Shorunmu Cautions NPFL Teams Against Complacency
Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) clubs in the CAF Champions League, Rivers United and Plateau United, are in for the toughest tasks in Africa’s elite club championship this weekend.
The teams are faced with battles against former champions of a competition, which Nigeria has only won twice through Enyimba in the over 60 years of African inter-club competition.
In the CAF Champions League, Rivers United will face Wydad AC of Morocco and Plateau United are up against Esperance of Tunisia, while another Nigerian side, Kwara United, is saddled with the task of overcoming Morocco’s Renaissance Sportive de (RSB) Berkane in the CAF Confederation Cup, also this weekend.
But Super Eagles’ Goalkeepers Trainer, Ike Shorunmu, believes the teams will survive if they do their homework properly.
He advised the clubs against allowing their opponents’ past to intimidate or put them under pressure, adding that the better prepared team will always triumph in every given game.
The Nigerian teams are playing the first legs of their ties at home and Shorunmu believes that the number of goals they score without conceding any will determine their progression in the competitions.
“The CAF games involving the teams and North African clubs will be tough and I expect the Nigerians to focus on their strength and don’t allow the past achievements of the North African teams scare them.
“Big names do not win games. Rather, the present form of a team determines how it progresses in a competition. You never can tell if the current players in these North African teams are good enough to outplay the Nigerian teams.
“Football is not played on past achievements; it is based on present form of a team, level of determination and commitment of players. All the Nigerian club sides should focus on being 100 per cent mentally alert during the games, avoid complacency and don’t get intimidated by their opponents on match day.
“They should also utilise every opportunity to score goals to reduce pressure on them in the return legs. Wide goal margins will also put their opponents under pressure going into the second leg,” he said.
The matches will hold today in Port Harcourt (Rivers United), Abuja (Plateau United) and Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos (Kwara United).
Looking forward to a glorious outing today, Rivers United management are optimistic that the Port Harcourt-based side will triumph over Wydad AC at the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt.
According to the team’s Media Officer, Charles Mayuku, Rivers United, who have been boosted by a $40,000 donation for each player by Governor Nyesom Wike, have vowed to die on the pitch rather than allow their opponents to leave the arena with their ambitions totally damaged.
Meanwhile, Plateau United’s opponents, Esperance of Tunisia, have landed in Abuja ahead of their first leg game.
They had their first training session at the match venue, MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, yesterday evening.