Rivers United draw defending champions in CAF draws

Rivers United draw defending champions in CAF draws
Photo by Icon sport

The CAF draws for the Champions League and Confederation Cup have Rivers United in a tight corner following the quarter-final pairings.

The draws, which took place in Cairo on Tuesday, were filled with drama but gave the Nigerian side a mountain to climb.

Rivers United have drawn the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-final clash against the defending champions, USM Alger, with Nigerians already feeling that the Pride of Rivers have reached the end of the road.

Rivers United, who had to wait till the last group match to book their ticket to this stage, now have their work cut out as they seek a semi-final place.

Rivers United with a mountain to climb

Rivers United vs Academica Petroleos review
Credit: Icon Sport

Nigeria's remaining representative in all CAF competitions this season, Rivers United, have been drawn against the defending champions, USM Alger.

The Algerian side has experience in this tournament, and it will take a massive effort from the Stanley Eguma-led side to see the Pride of Rivers through to the semi-final.

Rivers United made it through to this stage from a tough group. They finished second behind group leaders Dreams FC of Ghana.

The Ghanaian side finished with 12 points (same as Rivers United), who scaled through following the failure of Club Africain to beat Académica do Lobito in their last group game.

The Pride of Rivers, who reached the group stage following their 2-0 aggregate win over EF Ouagadougou, has to do better if they hope to get to the semi-final.

The pedigree of USM Alger

USM Alger to clash with Rivers United
Photo by Icon Sport

USM Alger is a renowned name on the African continent. They may have dropped in the rankings in recent seasons and won the Algerian Ligue 1 last in 2019, but they remain a force on the continent.

Despite the fear of North African teams by Nigerian sides, USM Alger is not a side that Rivers United cannot beat.

For the record, their only continental trophies came last season when they beat Young Africans of Tanzania on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate tie to lift the Confederation Cup.

They also beat Al Ahly 1-0 to lift the CAF Super Cup.

While USM Alger scored eight goals in the group stage, Rivers United should be worried that six of their goals came from six different players.

They would have to keep an eye on Zineddine Belaïd and Abdoulaye Kanu. Kanu has two goals from the group stage.

The Algerian side has only lost one game in the CAF Confederation Cup this season, making them a hard nut to crack. 

In six matches, they have conceded just three goals.

The first leg of the encounter will be held on March 31 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, before United travel to Algiers seven days later for the second leg.

The winner of the two-leg encounter would progress into the semi-final to face either Libya’s Abu Salem FC or RS Berkane of Morocco.


Abu Salem FC (Libya) vs RS Barkane (Morocco)

 Stade Malien (Mali) vs Dream FC (Ghana)

 USM Alger (Algeria) vs Rivers United (Nigeria)

 Mordern Future FC (Egypt) vas FC Zamalek (Egypt)

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month 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.