Sunday, July 2, 2017 11:22 pm
Rivers United Football Club’s hopes of advancing in the CAF Confederation Cup competition were dashed on Sunday after a 0-2 loss to visiting Club Africain of Tunisia in Port Harcourt.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigerian side’s travails began when Manoubi Hadeed scored for the Tunisian side in the 63rd minute from a free kick.
Further damage to the home side’s chances was inflicted when team captain Festus Austin scored an own goal in the 89th minute of the Group A Match Day 5 fixture.
Club Africain’s coach Chibeb Ellili later told sportswriters after the game at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium that the result was more than satisfactory for him.
“I am more satisfied with my team’s result here than the result of the match involving KCCA at Kampala in Uganda, because we needed an away win to qualify for the next stage.
“We came here in a very exceptional situation because I have four players injured and two players who cannot play. So, we came with only 16 players.
“We won because we played with our hearts and brain, and in terms of tactics and placement we were superior today,’’ he said.
Ellili said his team’s coaching crew and players were prepared for the fact that the game would be tough because Rivers United were a good team.
“United are good opponents. We played against them in Tunisia and won 3-1, but we suffered in the second half.
“That is why I am very happy today, because we won the maximum points when we are in a special condition and on this very difficult pitch,” he said.
Also, Slimen Kcouk, the captain of Club Africain, said he and his teammates saw the game as a big challenge. “But our team came for business. So, we played to win.’’
Willie Odube, the Chief Coach of Rivers United, said it was unfortunate that they lost because they never planned for failure.
He however reasoned that all hopes were not lost for them to qualify for the next stage of the competition.
“We have had the experience of people writing us off to even qualify for the group stage, but we finally qualified.
“We are going to Morocco (against FUS Rabat) and we are not going to relent. If a team can beat us at home, we can also win away.
“It depends on the heart and zeal of the players, by having it in mind that we lost at home and we need to win away,” the coach said.
Odube said the Rivers United players did not perform to instructions and were so much in a hurry.
He urged the Rivers people and other Nigerians not to lose hope in the team.
NAN reports that Rivers United will face FUS Rabat on July 7 in their last match of the group phase, needing to win to have a chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.
Club Africain, who have nine points from five matches and host KCCA in the Match Day 6 fixture same day, look to have already qualified for the knockout stage.