Nigerian champions Plateau United put up a late charge to score twice to give themselves a fighting chance of progressing into the group stage of the CAF Champions League despite a 4-2 defeat to Etoile du Sahel at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse on Tuesday.
The Nigerian club failed to contain an early attacking blitz by the 2007 CAF Champions League winners.
Egyptian international Amr Marei appeared to be raring to go even before Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal signalled the start of the game as he handed the home team a dream start just a minute after kickoff from Al Khaly Bangoura’s assist.
Kennedy Boboye’s men had hardly settled down when things got bad for them as the experienced Amine Chermiti extended their lead four minutes into the game.
On eight minutes, things turned out worse for the Nigerian champions as they conceded a third. Again Chermiti, who won the now defunct African Player of the Year (Based in Africa) in 2007, put Plateau United in more misery by netting Etoile’s third and his second of the evening. At 3-0, the game was looking done and dusted for Etoile.
Unfortunately for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NFPL) side, things did not change and the Tunisian giants continued their scoring as Aymen Sfaxi made it 4-0 after 54 minutes. Meanwhile before this time, Boboye had made a goalkeeping change sending on Dele Ajiboye in place of Okiemute Odah.
The Plateau United trainer also sent on Peter Eneji and Ibeh Johnson in place of Kabiru Umar and King Osanga and the impact of the substitutions was felt.
Eneji was villain of Nigeria’s 4-0 mauling to Morocco in the CHAN final last month turned things on its head as he made the Etoile defence track back often with his pace causing them worries.
Plateau United got a goal back 20 minutes to time through Raphael Ayagwa’s Panenka of a spot kick.
Boboye’s men were galvanized by that goal as pace of Tosin Omoyele and Eneji whose impact proved effective forced Etoile to retreat and defend.
Ibeh came close twice to scoring with one of the attempts clipping the crossbar with Etoile goalkeeper Achraf Krir beaten.
Krir would however be beaten for Plateau United’s second when Omoyele turned in Eneji’s assist from close range.
There was no further scoring at the Olympic Stadium but in 10 days Plateau United will need to score twice at their New Jos Stadium if they want to reach the group stage of the Champions League for the first time.
© The Predictor