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CAF Confederation Cup

How Rivers Utd Scaled Rayon Sports’ Hurdle

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BY SAMMY WEJINYA.

 

Ten-man Rivers United FC of Nigeria on Saturday knocked reigning Rwanda Peace Cup champions, Rayon Sports out of the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup after a drama-filled goalless draw in the return leg of the playoff round at a rocking Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.

Rayon Sports were required to win 2-0 to take the tie into extra time or 3-0 to win it outright and advance the group stage but ‘Gikundiro’ met an immovable object in the shape of the ‘Pride of Rivers’.

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United played with a man less for more than half an hour in the second half against a Rayon side back by a vociferous home crowd but grit, resolve and the never-say-die-Nigerian spirit was evident in the gladiatorial display which eventually proved to be the tide that carried Nigeria’s sole survivor in 2017 Inter CAF club competitions to safety.

United withstood predictable early pressure from the hosts and nearly silenced the Amahoro by snatching a shock lead, albeit an own goal, by Rayon Sports in the 18th minute.

Sakin did well to cross from the left but his dangerous delivery was diverted away for a corner by Jerry Mutsinzi with Guy Kuemian lurking on his shoulder.

Ten minutes later, the United players heaved a collective sigh of relief to see the score still even as Kwizera Pierrot curled a free kick inches wide from 25 yards but the boys from Nigeria seemed to exemplify men on a mission.

They hit back almost immediately through Sakin who almost gave them the lead on the stroke of half time but saw his volley fly just over Ndayisimiye Eric’s right hand post with the Rayon Sports goalkeeper in no man’s land.

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Rayon predictably stepped on the accelerator after the break but met the United rear guard in uncompromising form.

As the Rwandans pressed further up the pitch, United looked to exploit gaping holes and almost made them pay in the 54th minute when Emeka Ogbugh embarked on a mazy run on the right only to see his strike from a tight angle fly inches over the bar.

Three minutes later, Rayon Sports seemed to have been handed a lifeline as Ifeanyi Nweke received a red card for catching Savio Dominique with a high boot.

Rayon could smell blood; they honed in for the kill with wave after wave of unrelenting attacks but the Nigerians stood their ground, defending in gladiatorial fashion to produce a heroic shut out.

Nahimana Shassir almost set up a grand stand finish with a superb effort that almost crept into Rotimi’s far post late in the second half but Lady luck was wearing a white vest on the day!

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Rayon Sports head coach, Masoud Djuma was predictably downcast at full time but praised United as deserved winners of the tie.

“We lost to a better and more experienced side today and I want to say congratulations to Rivers United for their qualification,” Djuma exclusively told official www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.

Technical manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma also took the time to discuss his side’s progress to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup at the club’s first time of asking.

“It was a tough match but it was what we expected. We had a tactical plan and even after we had a man sent off, we did not panic.  I am pleased that we were able to get the job done and qualify for the group stage of the competition,” he said.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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CAF Confederation Cup

Shehu Dikko, Okey Obi get important roles at Confederation Cup final match

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The duo of Shehu Dikko and Okey Sylvanus Sylvanus Obi, both Nigerians have been appointed as Match Commissioner and Security Officer in Sunday’s final match of the CAF Confederation Cup in Cairo.

Dikko, the former chieftain of the governing body of the Nigeria Premier League is already in Cairo for the final match which pitches Zamalek SC against visiting Morocco’s RS Berkane.

Also already is Okey Obi is in Cairo. He is also the chief legal officer at the Nigeria Football Federation.  

The referee of the match is Issa SY. He handled the quarter-final match of Nigeria and  Angola in the Africa Cup of Nations last February. He will be assisted by compatriots, Djibril Camara and Nouha Bangoura. The fourth official is  Omar Abdulkadir Artan of Somalia.

  The Referee Assessor is Victor Miguel de Freitas Gomes of South Africa while  Joshua Robert Knipp, also of South Africa, is the General Coordinator for the match.

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The Video Assistant Referee is Pierre Ghislain Atcho of Gabon. Aliou Goloko of Senegal the initially designated Media Officer who was reportedly unavailable, has been replaced by Egypt’s Mohamed Elsesy.

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CAF Champions League

BREAKING: CAF adopts Yoruba name, “Ola” for official match ball!

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Confederation of African Football, CAF, has adopted a Nigerian language name of its official match ball for the interclubs competitions. Ahead of this weekend’s blockbuster line-up that sees Africa’s top clubs battle for  CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League top honours, the confederation and its matchball producers, PUMA have unveiled a new match ball called “OLA.”

 In a press statement, CAF explains that “OLA,” means “wealth,” “honour,” and “respect” in Yoruba, and “rise” and “success” in Arabic. It explained that the name was chosen to symbolize the dynamic and energetic nature of African football.

Embodying the spirit of Africa, Ola’s design is inspired by the continent’s vibrant colours, art, and traditions.

OLA will be used this weekend – starting in Tunis when Espérance Sportive de Tunis hosts Al Ahly of Egypt in the first leg of the  CAF Champions League Final and on Sunday when Zamalek hosts RS Berkane in the second leg of the  CAF Confederation Cup final at the Cairo International Stadium. 

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CAF Confederation Cup

Final, second-leg: Zamalek v RS Berkane: Facts & Figures

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Zamalek will host Moroccan side RS Berkane in the second-leg of the final of  CAF Confederation Cup in Cairo on Sunday.

The stakes are high as both teams vie for the title, with the Egyptian seeking to capitalize on their home advantage to overturn the 2-1 first leg deficit against RS Berkane.

RS Berkane will be eager to secure the result that would hand them the title ahead of Zamalek even though the Egyptian giants aim to assert themselves.

CAFOnline.com takes a look at some interesting facts and figures ahead of the second-leg clash:

Zamalek could become the first side to win the CAF Confederation Cup despite losing the first leg of the final since themselves in 2019 against RS Berkane (0-1, 1-0 then 5-3 after the penalty shootout).

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With their win over Zamalek in the first leg, RS Berkane are now the last unbeaten side in the CAF Confederation Cup this season (W8 D3, including two awarded wins in the semi-finals).


Zamalek have never lost a home game in the CAF Confederation Cup (W11 D4), but they drew the most recent two (1-1 v Modern Future and 0-0 v Dreams in the knockout phase this season).


RS Berkane scored their fifth and sixth goals following a set piece in the CAF Confederation Cup this season during the first leg, equalling Zamalek as the side with the most goals from dead ball situations.


Zamalek have the highest possession rate on average in the 2023-24 CAF Confederation Cup (63%), that’s at least six percentage points more than any other side.


Adil Tahif (RS Berkane) and Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek) have both scored their second headed goal in the 2023-24 CAF Confederation Cup during the first leg of the final, only Paul Valère Bassène (RS Berkane) has done as well.

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Zizo (Zamalek) provided his fifth assist in the 2023-24 CAF Confederation Cup, no player has given more assists over a single edition since Opta began detailed data collection (2016-17).


Nabil Emad (Zamalek) has completed 409 passes in the CAF Confederation Cup in 2024, at least 114 more than any other player. 74 of those were in the first leg of the final while no other player completed at least 50 passes in that game.

-CAF

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