Bendel Insurance cruise into the next round of Confederation Cup with 4-3 win

Bendel Insurance cruise into the next round of Confederation Cup with 4-3 win
Credit @BendelInsurance Twitter

Bendel Insurance has booked a place in the next round of the CAF Confederation Cup after a penalty shootout win over ASO Chlef.

The Benin Arsenal travelled to Algiers looking to successfully defend their 1-0 victory from the first leg.

Considering the antics associated with North African teams when playing in their home ground, Bendel Insurance knew it was going to be arduous.

Buoyed by the support of the fans of the club, especially the governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Mr Phillip Shaibu, the Benin Arsenal understood that failure was not an option.

Aso Chlef did not appreciate the turf of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and hoped to make amends for the poor quality play occasioned by the poor state of the pitch in Benin.

Bendel Insurance went behind in the first half

Bendel Insurance warm up head ASO Chlef 2nd leg clash
Credit @BendelInsurance Twitter

Bendel Insurance kicked off the game and quickly went on the attack. However, the hosts turned defence into attack.

Aso Chlef were eager to get the first goal to soothe their nerves and that of the home fans. The home side thought they had a chance in the fourth minute with Obasogie beaten, but the linesman called offside on the move.

The situation was nerve-racking for the Benin Arsenal as the home fans were in full voice, with ASO Chlef mounting incessant pressure.

Plenty of pressure saw Bendel Insurance sitting deep, unable to initiate any attack. The Algerian side was relentless and came close in the 15th minute, but the Insurance defence held sway.

Bendel Insurance gradually warmed into the game, but the occasion was telling. It was now a matter of when rather than if ASO Chlef would score. As the game wore on, Tamara Ezekiel and Sunday Anyanwu marshalled the midfield well for the Benin Arsenal.

ASO Chlef had a golden opportunity in the 32nd minute to go into the lead. A foul play in the Insurance box saw the referee pointing to the spot. However, Amas Obasogie saved the ensuing penalty kick.

The constant pressure by the Algerians finally told, and in the 41st minute, Bendel Insurance conceded. An excellent build-up by the Algerians opened up the defence of the Nigerian side, allowing Aso Chlef to score.

The first half finished with Aso Chlef claiming a 1-0 lead.

Stalemate in the second half

Bendel Insurance warm up for ASO Chlef
Credit @BendelInsurance Twitter

The second half started with a relentless Algerian side laying siege on the Nigerian box. The usually dangerous Imade Osarenkhoe was unusually quiet, as the Aso Chlef pressure deprived him of service.

In the early stage of the second half, in a rare foray into attack, Insurance had loud claims for a penalty after a handball in the box. However, the referee ignored it, awarding just a corner kick.

By the hour mark, the Bendel Insurance bench had substituted the usually reliable attack line comprising Ismael Sarki, Zaidu Ayuba and Imade Osarenkhoe. Abubakar Haruna, Jude Williams and Vincent Augustus came on for the trio.

The Algerian side continued to pile on the pressure, but Insurance was coping well.

A second goal by the Algerians would kill off the game, but the Nigerians were not ready to go down without a fight.

Aso Chlef made a triple substitution in the 74th minute as they continued to search for the winning goal that eluded them.

In the 6th minute of added time, Aso Chlef had a chance to wrap up the game but blew the opportunity, much to the relief of the Bendel Insurance bench. It was the last chance of the game to get another goal, and Aso Chlef won 1-0 to send it to penalties.

Insurance triumph in the shootout

Penalty kicks are a luxury, and it requires nerves of steel. Insurance fancied their chances, especially as Amas Obasogie had saved one during the game.

The ensuing kicks saw Kelly Kester and Hussaini Abdulahi scoring the opening two kicks for Bendel Insurance. Paul Obata missed the third penalty and saw Aso Chlef score the next to go into the lead.

Jude Ebohon restored parity, and Aso Chlef missed. Tanimu Benjamin sent Insurance back into the lead before Amas Obasogie became the hero by saving the last kick to see the Benin Arsenal through to the next round.

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.