CAF Confederation Cup: Rivers United take a narrow lead in USM Alger win

CAF Confederation Cup: Rivers United take a narrow lead in USM Alger win
Credit: Icon Sport

Augustine Okejepha's exquisite first-half strike put Rivers United in the driving seat ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup second leg in Algiers, Algeria.

Okejepha scored a stunning goal ten minutes into the first-half as Rivers United earned a hard-fought 1-0 win against USM Alger in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-final on Sunday afternoon.

The Usmiste had a couple of their key players missing in the game, but they did just enough to concede a solo goal at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo which means they'll fight to overturn the result in front of their home fans next weekend.

The match in brief: Augustine Okejepha the difference

Rivers United started the game the better side as they held onto the ball and pressured the visitors with six shots before the seventh minute.

The Pride of Rivers made their early dominance in the game count as a moment of individual brilliance ten minutes into the first-half in Uyo saw Augustine Okejepha send in a super strike into the net off a decent pass from Sadiq Abubakar Adamu to give Evans Ogenyi's side the lead.

It was a clinical finish from the 19-year-old midfielder in an afternoon that the hosts went into the break with a three-to-one shots on target against the visitors.

Rivers United players celebrate scoring a goal
Credit: Icon Sport

A second half of wastefulness from Rivers United

Rivers United continued their dominance over USM Alger in the second half as the team pressured Juan Carlos Garrido's men for the second goal.

The defending champions remained composed at the back  with the help of goalkeeper Oussama Benbot who produced some spectacular saves to keep the scoreline at 1-0.

Noticing USM Alger were content to keep the result that way, Evans Ogenyi introduced Mark Gibson, Bernard Kouassi, and Andy Okpe in order to break their defense and get the needed second goal.

However, all efforts from Rivers United either went off target or saved by the goalkeeper who made a total of seven saves to deny the hosts a sizable lead ahead of the second leg.

At full-time, Rivers United registered 30 shots on target, seven going on target and the goal from Okejepha separating both sides.

On the other hand, USM Alger had 10 shots with just one on target, but produced a result which they have a chance to overturn at home.

USM Alger players
Credit: @USMAofficiel X

How Rivers United lined up against USM Alger

Akande Abiodun (GK); Kazie Enyinnaya, Ampiah Emmanuel, Augustine Okejepha, Anthony Ohaegbu; Ekerette Udom, Abubakar Adamu, Alex Oyowah, Nyima Nwagwa; Ukeme Williams, Deputy Echeta.

Subs: Victor Sochima, Ebedebiri Endurance, Mark Gibson, Odeh Paul, Yao Bernard, Samuel Antwi, Temple Emekayi, Andy Okpe, Mathias Samuel.

Next up for Rivers United

As the only surviving Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club in CAF competition this season, Rivers United of Port Harcourt, will have their hands full when they make the trip to North Africa later this week.

The Pride of Rivers is hoping to become the first Nigerian team to win an African competition since Enyimba defeated Hearts of Oak 2-0 after extra time in 2005 to lift the CAF Super Cup.

Considering how tricky North African clubs can be in CAF competitions, Rivers United did everything possible to pick an important win at home before heading away for the second leg.

The defending champions will hope to have some of their key players who are said to be nursing injuries back, as they host Rivers United in a must-win encounter in Algiers.

Evans Ogenyi's side won all five home matches this campaign in the CAF Confederation Cup, but are less impressive on the road with only one victory, a draw and two defeats.

It will be all to play for next Sunday, 7 April 2024, as both teams battle it out for a place in the semi-finals. The action kicks off at 10 pm Nigerian time.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 week ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.