MFM FC walk tight rope to CAF Champions League group stage

By Olanrewaju Akojede on March 16, 2018

Views: 1,826

Opinions are divided as Lagos-based MFM FC face a herculean task of dislodging MC Algiers in the second leg of the second round of the Prestigious CAF Champions League on Saturday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Olukoya Boys, debutant in the 2.5 million dollars prize championship depart the shores of the country on Thursday for Algiers.

The team is set to face Moulouda Club d’Alger known as MC Algiers whom they defeated 2-1 at the Soccer Temple, Agege Stadium at the Stade 5 Juillet 1962, Algiers at 8.45 pm Nigerian time.

The Fidelis Ilechukwu boys have in their kitty necessary three points but a shaky win as 35th minute penalty from Chijoke Akuneto and Monsuru Bashiru 35-yard screamer in the 84th minute settled the match.

Before facing the Bernard Casoni’s opposition, MFM FC had put up an interesting performance at the very start of their campaign, claiming a vital 1-1 away to Real Bamako of Mali against all odds.

They, however, finished up the business at their slaughter slab in Agege, where they had a narrow lone goal advantage to book a place in the second round of the qualifiers to settle for 2-1 on aggregate.

However, MFM should be well prepared to face a northern opposition in a 64,000 seat capacity stadium with howling ferocious spectators of in Algiers.

They should also have it at the back of their mind to replicate the all-important vital away goal by Aziovez Amachi if they want to stand a chance of progressing to the next round of the championship.

For MC Algiers, though they possess not too impressive campaign in their continental football since its establishment in 1921, having won the African Cup of Champions Club in 1976.

History, however, has it that they are regarded to as one of the most successful clubs in Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 having won it seven times second to JS Kayblie.

They also have in their bag seven domestic cups third to USM Alger and their next door neighbour, ES Setif

The team from the capital city has six appearances in the continental football, champions in 1976, quarter-finalists in 1977, and second round in 1979, in 1980 they were once again quarter-finalists.

In 2000, MC Algiers was eliminated in the in the first round and got to the group stage in 2011. They also have three appearances in CAF Confederation Cup, 2007, 2008 and 2015.

The Olukoya Boys are going to the next round as an underdogs yet they must be ready to pay the price if they want to progress to the money spinning group stage of the competition.

The team should also have at the back of their mind the annihilation their opponent unleashed on Otoho of Congo who they defeated 9-0 after losing the first leg 0-2.

Speaking on the chances of the team, the club’s spokesperson, Olawale Quadri, was boastful of their chances of progressing to the next stage, saying that football was not mathematics.

“What I know is that if they can come here to get a goal, we can also get there to get a goal too, nothing is stopping us.

“They are here with a mission and we are going there for a mission too.  Everything is possible, football is not mathematics as people often predict.

“We are ready for anything that will come out of Algeria, we don’t fear them, the management of the team has done everything within its power to motivate the team,’’ he said.

Their gaffer, Ilechukwu, said that the team would aim at dislodging the North Africans no matter what they face in the second leg.

“It is not over for us at all, they have the pressure on them as we will seek to have maximum points in Algeria,” he said.

The Technical Director, Lagos State Football Association (LSFA), Dotun Coker, said that the Lagos-based team has everything it takes to progress to the next stage of the competition.

“I don’t think they are rookies anymore, they have all it takes to be in the group stage. Sometimes people do write them off, but I am optimistic about them.

“Before the AS Real Bamako match opinions were rife that they have not too impressive records away but they proved many doubters wrong by coming out with a draw.

“The team needs the support of everyone to perform better,” he said.

However, a soccer pundit, Segun Odutayo, said that the team should be cautious about the North African opposition, adding that Nigeria does not possess good records against them.

“MFM FC is on a tight rope to the second leg of the tournament, Nigerian clubs do have bad records against the North Africans, one cannot forget in a hurry JS Kayblie stoppage against Stationary Stores.

“Going back to records again, Shooting Stars were stopped by Zamalek of Egypt, the list is endless, I would have love it if MFM FC had avoided that goal against them.

“The goal will count and go a long way in determining their fate, it might have sealed their fate, away goals in a competition like this is very crucial.

“The team cannot afford a slip as the North Africans are better known for their intimidation of opponents, so a serious win is only a likelihood of progressing,” he said.

In the words of Tunde Akinola, a sports analyst, MFM FC might have come to the dead end in their campaign.

“MFM FC might have come to the end of the road in their campaign, not because they are not good enough, but not lucky enough to have faced the North African opposition at this stage.

“Northern Africa opposition are very tough and technically gifted, they always want a win at all cost. Give them the credit they are favourites any day because they have a rich history in continental football,” he said.

For MFM to scale through it would be like a camel passing through the eye of a needle, yet their chances are 50-50 if they can get it right in Algiers looking for the vital away goals or coming out with a draw.

The team looks evolving with maturity but, there are many lessons to be learnt on the road to being a regular continental playing football club.

Will MFM FC ever succeed in Algiers? Results from Saturday’s match will either prove doubters wrong or confirm their reservations over the team. (NAN)

•Photo shows the Olukoya Boys

Source Daily Sports

Posted March 16, 2018


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