By Tolu Olorunmoteni
One more huddle, an intense ninety minutes and possibly one hundred and twenty; the end of the preliminary rounds of the CAF competitions.
Of the four teams we paraded, three managed good results that leave them without an uphill task, while the other somehow made a mess of their own.
There’s still a lot to play for, and the ‘advantage’ could be lost within a twinkle of an eye. Here’s a breakdown of what each team requires to progress.
Enugu Rangers vs JS Saoura (Algeria)
The reigning NPFL Champions left Algeria undefeated and with a crucial away goal that puts them in the driving seat of this tie.
Now, what is left is for the team to avoid defeat and a score draw of more than One goal. Should Rangers concede more than once in this game, only an outright win will see them progress to the next round of the Champions League.
Rivers United vs AS Real Bamako (Mali)
A 0-0 draw away from May not be as advantageous as many claim it is. It leaves the home team walking a tight rope in the return leg. For what it’s worth, Rivers United traveled to Mali and returned undefeated, managing a clean sheet in the process.
They will need to repeat this feat on Sunday, but now, they can’t afford not to score at least a goal in return because an outright win is all that counts.
Al Masry (EGY) vs FC Ifeanyi Ubah
This is only FC Ifeanyi Ubah’s maiden season playing continental football, but they’re surely not short of individual experience; some of them have played in the highest level. Tamen Medrano, Stephen Eze, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Prince Aggreh, among others, are already capped by their countries which is no mean feat.
Al Masry held the Nnewi side for eighty-seven minutes before Tamen Medrano scored a crucial goal that broke the heart of Egyptian side, who until that time had remained solid.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah will go through if they avoid a defeat that isn’t more than a goal margin; Read: 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, etc. A 1-0 loss in regular time means a penalty shootout is looming. Given FC ifeanyi ubah defeated Rangers in a shootout to win the NFF Charity Cup in January, maybe that may not be a completely bad option either. And with 75 fans in the stands, a commendable feat, hopefully they will be loud enough.
Wikki Tourist vs RSLAF (Sierra Leone)
Wikki are the only Nigerian team with a mountain to climb. A 2-0 first leg defeat to a relatively unknown team has done their chances a lot of harm. Wikki now need to score at least two unreplied goals to cancel the deficit. Then one more to assure progression to the next round. That is never an easy task for even the most incredible attack line in the world, let alone for a Wikki side that has scored only seven goals in six NPFL games this season. Wikki Tourist need a miracle now, that’s the only thing that will do.
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