By: Ben Nwachukwu, Abuja
Nigeria Professional Football League 2017/18 Champions and representatives of the country in the CAF Champions League, Lobi Stars Fc of Makurdi on Wednesday humbled USM de Loum of Cameroon with a 2-1 goals aggregate book a place in the next stage against Gor Mahia of Kenya after defeating UMS de Loum of Cameroon.
Lobi Stars lost the first leg by a lone goal to the Cameroonians but bounced back from the loss to win 2-0 on Wednesday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu state, Nigeria.
The Nigerian champions took the lead in the 12th minute through Sikiru Alimi who found the back of the net from Samad Kadiri rebound.
When it was as if the hard tackling Cameroonians were to settle for a penalty shootout, the Nigerian champions through its ubiquitous import Yaya Kone doubled the scoreline from the spot to make sure they booked a place in the next round of the CAF Champions league to confront the Kenyan champions who saw off Nijasa Bullets 4-3 penalties after playing out a one all draw aggregate.
Winners of the two legged game will proceed to the group stage. The Nigerian representatives will be away to the Kenyans in Nairobi between December 14-16.
In a related development, Nigeria’s AITEO Cup champions and flag bearers in the 2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup Rangers International Fc of Enugu also sailed through to the next stage of the competition having eliminated the Ethiopia’s Defense Force opposition 5-1 goals aggregate.
Rangers defeated the Ethiopians home and away to reaffirm their readiness to compete effectively in the continent’s second tier clubs’ competition having won 2-0 in the first leg played at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium and recorded an emphatic 3-1 victory on Wednesday in Addis Ababa.
Dibaba Wendimu steeled his nerve to send Rangers shot stopper, Nana Bonsu the wrong way from the penalty spot on the third minute of play after a handball incidence was spotted by the referee.
As the match wore on, Rangers gradually settled into the game and pushed back the host but were unlucky not to have levelled up before the 36thminute when Bright Silas slammed home an inviting cross from Isaac Loute.
On 40 minutes, Godwin Aguda dusted himself after he was upended in the box to slot home from the spot for Rangers second goal of the day.
Super-sub, Kelvin Itoya was thrown into the fray with only twenty minutes left on the clock and his combination with Ajani Ibrahim and Bright Silas came to a devastating effect as his cheeky shot inside the opponent’s vital area sailed unhindered into the net for Rangers’ third goal of the day on 79 minutes.
Rangers coach, Olugbenga Ogunbote said at the post match conference, “First of all, we thank God for the victory against a good side that loves to keep the ball but failed to do the needful when it mattered. Experience gave us the edge knowing that we came here with a two goals lead and conceding very early gave us cause for some concern but we gradually came into the match and got the result we needed. Defence Force is not a bad side but we did well to take most of our chances while they did not. Looking ahead, we hope to make corrections in the areas noticed before our next match.”
Captain of the side, Okey Odita, said, “It was a good game and we thank God for the victory. We played against a good side but we showed experience that took us above them.”
With this result, the seven time Nigerian league champions have qualified for the first round of the competition and await the winner between Algerian and Liberian champions in less than two weeks.
NFF is banking on the excellent performances of the duo in the continental engagements to battle for the resisting of two more clubs in both CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.