Nigeria’s representatives on the continent were brought back down to earth on Saturday as the second leg of the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup took centre stage.
Plateau UNited took a slim 2-1 lead over Esperance to Tunisia with the hope of reaching the group stages of the lucrative CAF Champions League, while Kwara United were in Morocco to face RS Berkane in the Confederation Cup with a much-better lead from the first leg – 3-1.
Plateau United had won the first leg a week ago courtesy long throws from defender Daniel Itodo that was converted by his teammates, as the side came from a goal down to record a massive win against the Tunisian giants.
Kwara United, similarly, had to score three late goals to beat the defending champions at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena last weekend and were hopeful of reaching the final round of the competition when they travelled to Morocco.
It was a cagey affair between Plateau United and Esperance with the ball possession going to the home side. Fidelis Ilechukwu’s side defended well all through the first half, holding onto their slim advantage.
The Tunisians, who knew they needed to win by a lone goal to seek progression, kept pushing but the Peace boys held strong and continued defending with all their lives. A bizarre moment would eventually come ten minutes before full time when the referee awarded a penalty in favour of the home side. It was quite controversial but the Tunisians would not care as Ben Romdhane converted from the spot.
That goal made the difference as the Jos-side were demoted to the final round of the CAF Confederation Cup.
In Morocco, Kwara United came up against defending champions RS Berkane with a two goal advantage. One goal in each half got the job done for the Moroccans. Ouattara Djibril opened the scoring before El Bahri Charki doubled their advantage in the 54th minute.
By virtue of the result, Kwara United’s journey on the continent ends here, while the defending champions will move to the last stage of the competition.
Both Plateau United and Kwara United crashed out on away goals rule and many Nigerians will be hoping champions Rivers United will make the country proud when they go up against Wydad in Casablanca.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago