Plateau Utd down & out, Akwa, Enyimba, MFM hold hope

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Photo: LMC Media
Photo: LMC Media

Nigerian champions Plateau United will play no part in CAF club competitions this year after they were well-beaten by Algerian side, USM Alger, in Algiers on Tuesday. Plateau United lost four-nil.

The defeat on Tuesday in the CAF Confederation Cup playoff meant the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title-holders suffered a 5-2 defeat on aggregate after winning the first meeting 2-1 at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.

Strangely the Plateau United head coach Kennedy Boboye opted to play without a recognised number. CHAN 2018 players Daniel Itodo and Peter Eneji started from the bench, same with the pacy Tosin Omoyele.

Plateau United could only hold on for 28 minutes before the impressive Oussama Darfalou opened scoring for the Algerian club to cancel out United’s lead on aggregate. At 1-0 on the night after 45 minutes, things still looked bright for the Nigerian champions.

However, Plateau United’s outing in Algiers unravelled as Darfalou scored three minutes into the restart and Kaddour Beldjilali added a third for the 2015 CAF Champions League finalists.

Mohamed Benkhemassa put the icing on the cake for USM Alger as he curled in superbly from inside the box nine minutes from time to make it four-nil.

Plateau United’s exit leaves Nigeria with three clubs on the continent. Akwa United, Enyimba and MFM FC will be involved in CAF Confederation Cup playoffs.

Nigeria Cup holders Akwa United will look to upturn a two-goal deficit when they play hosts to Sudan’s Al Hilal at their Nest of Champions in Uyo. Akwa United have the burden of failing to score more than two goals in their last 13 matches in all competitions since they defeat Wikki Tourists 4-0 in early February in a league fixture.

Last season’s runners-up in the NPFL, MFM FC have a Herculean task on their hands when they play in Bamako against Malian club Djoliba AC in Tuesday’s late fixture. Fidelis Ilechukwu lost the first leg in Lagos 1-0.

The west African country’s only realistic hope of reaching the group stage of the Confederation Cup is widely believed to be Enyimba who secured a 1-1 draw with South African champions Bidvest Wits in the reverse game.

However it is still an open contest when both clubs go head to head in Calabar as Enyimba goalkeeper Fatau Dauda stated.

“There is still a second leg to play, so the game is not yet won or lost. But we know what is at stake. After doing well in the first leg, we just need to stay focused and get the job done this time to progress in the competition,” said Fatau to thepredictorng.com.

© The Predictor NG

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