Nigeria’s remaining club in the continent, Rivers United left it late yesterday but were able to qualify for the group stage of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ who are now the pride of Nigeria laboured to a 2-0 win over 10-man Etoile Filante of Ouagadougou at the Liberation Stadium in Port-Harcourt.
Although Rivers United dominated proceedings from the blast of the whistle, poor finishing denied them of the goal scoring opportunities, including a penalty that was awarded to them as the first ended 0-0.
On resumption, the hosts continued to pile pressure on the visitors from Burkina Faso and were awarded another penalty in the 69th minute which was wasted again.
However, Rivers United pressure on the defence of Etoile Filante paid off in the 89th minute when Alex Oyowah broke the deadlock.
In the ill-tempered fixture that saw eight yellow cards to the visitors, Oyowah doubled Rivers United’s advantage in the 9th minute of second half added time to take the ‘Pride of Rivers’ to another group stage in the Confederation Cup.
It will be recalled that following their quarter-final finish in last year’s Confederation Cup, Rivers United were drawn bye and joined this year’s competition in the second Preliminary Round.
Meanwhile, their opponents in yesterday’s match had qualified for the second preliminary round courtesy of their victory over Casa of Senegal on away goal rule.
When Rivers United and Etoile Filante met in the first leg on September 17, the match ended in a barren draw.
It will also be recalled that the other Nigerian clubs, Enyimba, Remo Stars and Bendel Insurance had crashed out of their respective continental competitions.
While Enyimba and Remo Stars exited the Champions League at the first preliminary round, Insurance of Benin managed to reach the Confederation Cup second preliminary round before they were knocked out by RS Berkane of Morocco last Friday.
As it is, Rivers United who finished in third position in the 2023 NPFL season are the only Nigerian club left in the continent, a repeat of what happened last season when Plateau United, Remo Stars and Kwara United crashed out at the early stages.