Nigeria's representative, Bendel Insurance, were sent out of the CAF Confederation Cup on Friday night after losing the return leg 1-0 (3-2 on aggregate) to RS Berkane.
The Nigeria Premier Football League side came into this match on the back of a 2-2 draw at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, which dampened their chances of even going through at the expense of the Moroccan giants.
Like coach Monday Odigie said in his post match presser after the first leg result at home – “football is all about participation” – his side have now been sent packing at the final qualifying round.
What happened in the second leg in Morocco
Bendel Insurance, who knocked out another North African team – ASO Chlef of Algeria in the previous round, knew that they needed to do extra in order to progress at the expense of RS Berkane.
Prior to this game, the Benin side lost star forward Imade Osarenkhoe to a move abroad and there was clearly no credible replacement on ground. The UNIBEN graduate scored in both games at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, while Divine Nwachukwu, who was quite influential in midfield, didn't take part in the continental qualifiers due to his desire to move abroad as well.
With those two notable players out, Monday Odigie trusted his remaining old guards as well the newly signed Ezekiel Tamara, Stanley Okorom and Paul Obata to get the job done but it didn't work out.
It was a fine start to the game as Insurance were able to create goal scoring chances of their own. On the other hand, the home side kept probing from the flanks while Benjamin Tanimu and Sunday Anyawu continued to coordinate things at the back.
Goalkeeper Amas Obasogie was forced into a couple of saves by Lamlioui and Zghoudi while his defence also helped him out in limiting the home side to shots from distance.
Midway through the match, Insurance got their own chance to go in front. The hardworking Ezekiel took the ball off Arjoune in midfield and played a fine pass into the path of Obata but the winger could not sort his feet on time and his late effort was subsequently blocked by the defender.
With the half coming to a close, Berkane stepped things up and a lapse in concentration at the back by Insurance, was well punished. Lamlioui latched onto a fine through ball to fire past the hapless Obasogie with Insurance defender Okorom well behind the offside trap playing the striker onside.
Upon the restart, it was more of control for Berkane who knew that any score draw apart from the scoreline that happened in Benin will take them through.
Bendel Insurance huffed and puffed in the second half but they couldn't find a way past Ouaad's goal.
FT: RS Berkane 1-0 Bendel Insurance (3-2 on agg)
The 2022 champions advance to the group stage having done the key job in Benin City against Insurance.
— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) September 29, 2023
In the end, the 2022 CAF Confederation Cup champions moved into the money-spinning group stage 3-2 on aggregate, while Insurance's Cinderella run came to an end.
What next for Bendel Insurance?
The 2023-24 Nigeria Premier Football League gets underway this Saturday but Bendel Insurance are not taking part because of their continental assignment and their match day one fixture against Enyimba was rescheduled.
But with that completed now, the Benin Arsenals will return to the country and prepare to play in the NPFL next weekend.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago