CAF Confederation Cup, Plateau’s Expected Exit, Rivers Must Watch It

By Daily Sports Nigeria on November 14, 2022

It did not come as surprise to close observers of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) that the yearly championship is heavily compromised.

It was in news last week that the major players met and agreed that clubs bought their way to the top. In short it was all for grab for the highest bidder.
It has been the order of the day and way of doing things in Nigeria local league glaringly under the nose of the organizers of the championship.

Reports said that NPFL officials are fully aware of the notorious act of match fixing and buying.
An offence heavily frowned at by World football governing body, FIFA.

In Nigeria, it is a way of doing things and it has affected our clubs in African Championships. Professional footballers’ body has cried out and called on relevant football governing bodies to take critical note and also take swift measures to ensure that normalcy returns to Nigerian football league.   

It won’t be out of place to attribute match fixing to the poor performance of our clubs so far. For instance, we all witnessed sadly how our representatives in both CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup, Rivers United and Plateau United while Remo Stars were booted out in Confederation Cup.

Just last week the ‘expected’ happened in Libya, where one of Nigeria’s CAF Confederation Cup representatives, Plateau United, went into the second leg of their last qualifying round for the group stage of the competition with a 4-1 lead over Libya’s Al Akdar FC. But at the end of 90 minutes, the Nigerian side could not hold on to that lead, as they crashed out of the competition on the away goal rule after losing 3-0. You can see that is absurd if you like. Even if a team sleeps, how could it happen that Libya which has been in a war against herself over these years yet, football thrives better than a country like Nigeria that has experienced relative peace no matter how fragile it has been. That is what does happen to a country swimming in corruption in all facets.

I know many would wonder why this columnist said the expected happened to the Plateau boys in Libya, tt boiled down to the sharp practices that characterized our league, where a real champion is never allowed to emerge hence, these abysmal performances by the teams representing us in the continental clubs championships.

To only those it surprised, the return leg of the tie at the Binena Stadium was supposed to be a mere formality following the heavy goal margin from the first match. And the Fidelis Ilechukwu- tutored side held the home team goalless in the first half, however when there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for the supporters of the Tin City-based team, who started planning for the group stage, the unexpected to them, definitely not to a grounded reporter like me came calling.

Trust this round leather’s unpredictability Al Akdar FC had other ideas on how to turn their opponents back empty handed. The bench of the host team after studying their Nigerian opponents critically during the first half hence, the terrible crumbling of the Plateau United very early in the second half when the war-ravaged Libyans scored two quick goals which destabilized their already confused West African opponents whose bench never think outside the box..

Note that the brace was not enough for the Libyan football club to kick Plateau United out of the competition. As the clock kept ticking and the game dragged to 90 minutes, Plateau United supporters might have prayed fervently for God to restrict AL Akdar FC to the two goals. That opportunity never came as the game went beyond Ikechukwu and his wobbling and fumbling boys could not find their feet even in the added time.

I refused to agree that Plateau United lost concentration and the Libyans scored their goal which tied the result at 4-4. Without much ado, Plateau United side was thus knocked of the Confederation Cup on away goal rule.
It would be recalled that this columnist had previously warned both Rivers United and Plateau to be weary of the second tie competition which they were condemned due to their dismal outings and subsequent drop from the more prestigious CAF Champions League to the Confederation Cup, the same team was eliminated also on the away goal rule after drawing 2-2 against even more dreaded Esperance of Tunisia.

Now the only hope of the country in this year’s African club championship is Rivers United. On paper, the Port Court based team is solid to the teeth to face squarely any team in the CAF Confederation Cup.
As I warned both before the ouster of Plateau United that vigilance must be the watch word, Rivers United should heed and go through to the group stage.

However I think that the Governor Nysom Wike side is equal to the task if the football club concentrates in all its game home and away.
The management, bench and players have experienced and matured men to do the needful as it sojourn in the competition.

This digital newspaper will keep urging the team on but must also warn them to do their home work thorough and then go for result. Only such pays. This second tier championship has matured into competitiveness and so only the best and well prepared go to the finals and eventually win the cup. Football is no mathematics therefore hard work pays.

Keep shooting hard till next week. Meanwhile we wait!!


Source Daily Sports Nigeria

Posted November 14, 2022


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