Bendel Insurance after several years of absence at the continental scene welcomed their Algerian counterpart, ASO Chlef, to the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin City yesterday for the first leg of CAF Confederation Cup group stage preliminary round.
The Benin Arsenal defeated the Algerians by a lone goal thus setting the stage for a mouth-watering encounter in the second leg in Algeria in a fortnight.
The Benin team had some time to adapt into the game, but they quickly increased the pressure and rightly seized the lead three minutes before the break.
A floating free-kick bounced towards the back post, where the ever-reliable forward, Imade Osarenkhoe, despite losing his equilibrium, was ready to bundle in. Insurance players celebrated wildly, while ASO Chiefs players appealed to the referee without success.
Insurance couldn’t find a second gear in the second period, but they did enough to keep their slender victory heading into the second leg.
The second leg will take held on August 26 at Algiers’ Stade Mabrouki Salem with the winner on aggregate facing 2022 CAF Confederation Cup Champions, RS Berkane in the second round.
It will be recalled that the Benin Arsenal and its Algerian counterparts, ASO Chlef, took similar routes to a continental ticket. After a flawless abridged season, Bendel Insurance was unable to secure a spot in the super six but eventually found relief in the FA Cup, as they defeated Enugu Rangers in the final to earn a continental berth.
Chlef, its Algerian opponent, followed a similar path, placing sixth in the Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 last season but winning the league cup to secure a place at the continental table for the first time in over a decade.