Bendel Insurance kicked off their CAF Confederation Cup campaign on a winning note though a 1-0 win.
The Benin Arsenal found the going tough against a well-knit Algerian side determined to return home with a positive result.
The Bendel Insurance victory is something to cheer about, but the tie is still open, as Bendel Insurance have a mountain to climb in the return leg.
Aso Chlef will return home with positive vibes and a strong belief that they can turn the tide on their Nigerian opponents.
It might not be easy for Aso Chlef, whose last Nigerian opponent beat them home and away.
The last Nigeria team the Algerian side came up against was Sunshine Stars. The two clashed in the 2012 CAF Champions League, with the Akure-based side triumphing 2-1 in Algiers and 2-0 at home.
Bendel Insurance can take inspiration from that victory as they return to Algiers next week for the return leg.
A win, they say, is a win, but the Benin Arsenal must be wary of the wily North African side.
Here are five takes from the first leg at the Samuel Ogbemudi stadium
Bendel Insurance pitch did not allow for vintage football
The Samuel Ogbemudia stadium may have witnessed a facelift, but under the scrutiny of a game as crucial as the CAF Confederation Cup, it failed the litmus test.
For those expecting slick football, the rain-soaked pitch did not allow for it. The coach of Aso Chlef Yaiche Rezoug alluded to the unsavoury state of the playing surface at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Imade Osarenkhoe remains the most potent force for Bendel Insurance
A fantastic job done from the Bendel Insurance media team.
Special thanks to the fans.
— The FootBall Skit (@TheFootballSkit) August 19, 2023
Aso Chlef played with a formation that frustrated Bendel Insurance all afternoon. They looked like a side that had studied Bendel Insurance and set out to frustrate their attacking potential.
It was a long afternoon for the duo of Imade Osarenkhoe and Ismael Sarki.
Despite the efforts by Aso Chlef, Imade Osarenkhoe proved deadly again, as he scored the game's only goal. It is a testament to how rudderless the Benin Arsenal would be without their top scorer for last season.
Aso Chlef is still a dangerous side
We expect a different game in the second leg. The pitch at the Stade Mabrouki Salem in Algiers is better than that of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Insurance should expect fireworks as the Algerian side showed glimpses of what they can do.
Despite going a goal down, they did not wither in Benin and created decent and dangerous chances. They could have gotten a share of the spoils.
They were particularly dangerous on the counter and caused Insurance a few problems.
Bendel Insurance needs creativity in the middle
The few times Aso Chlef tested Insurance, their defence held its own, but they also needed a bit of fortune to ride the tide.
In the attacking phase, the Benin Arsenal lacked creativity and required a bit of ingenuity from Imade Osarenkhoe to unlock the Aso Chlef defence.
They need some creativity in the midfield. With Osarenkhoe and Sarki well-policed by the Algerian defence, the midfield came up short in providing quality answers to the questions from Aso Chlef.
The Benin Arsenal enjoy massive support in Benin
Bendel Insurance has a rich history that seemed to have died, but its participation in the continental competition seemed to resurrect that spirit.
The Benin side saw maximum support led by the state governor. The home fans filled the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to support their darling team.
Imade Osarenkhoe picked it up from where he stopped last season with our season's opening goal in the 42nd minute.
Adaaaaaaaa BENDEL! pic.twitter.com/f3c5kJ8tB4
— Bendel Insurance FC Official (@BendelInsurance) August 20, 2023
The governor of Edo State was at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to support the side owned by the state.
Another champion for the cause of the side is the deputy governor of the state, Phillip Shaibu.
Bendel Insurance has their work cut out in the second leg and should expect underarm tactics from Aso Chlef. Their vociferous supporters will not be in Algiers to back them. They need to find a way to weather the storm.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago