Officials of Malian club, AS Real Bamako were spotted at the weekend in Ibadan, keeping a close watch and taking notes on the activities of reigning Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) runners-up, Rivers United FC.
The officials (one of them, a cameraman) were spotted at the Lekan Salami Stadium during club’s training session last Saturday and 24 hours later at the same venue when Rivers United lost 1-2 to Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) at the same venue in an NPFL contest.
Chief Coach of Rivers United, Willy Udube, however insisted that the development ‘should not be a thing of worry for our fans’.
“I was informed that three officials from AS Real Bamako watched both our training session last weekend.
“To be honest, this should not be a thing of worry for our fans because we knew such a thing would happen; I will say it is normal practice.
“As a former footballer myself, I saw such things happen countless times when we played on the continent.
“We have been working hard ourselves to get a good result in Mali against AS Real Bamako and I am sure we will get a positive result,” he told the club’s official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
Rivers United has never previously participated in CAF’s inter-club competitions in their one-year history.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ will be guests of AS Real Bamako on Saturday at the Stade Omnisports Modibo Keïta, Bamako in the first leg of their preliminary round clash in Africa’s apex club competition.
Meanwhile, Rivers United’s Technical Manager, Stanley Eguma, has promised a good performance when his charges file out against Real Bamako.
Eguma said Saturday’s 1-2 loss to Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) should not dampen morale too much as it is still possible for the club to end the season on a high.
“The result in Ibadan was not a good one but sitting back and feeling sorry for ourselves at this stage of the season makes no sense whatsoever.
“I am experienced enough to know that the season is still at its infancy and that we can still achieve great things this season if we do what we should.
“I am confident of this team and I know we will make Nigerians happy this weekend with a solid display against a very strong AS Real Bamako side,” he told the club’s official website.
In the same vein, Rivers United captain, Festus Austin has revealed that the players of the football club were pained by the loss to 3SC in Ibadan but are now focused on the task at hand this weekend against AS Real Bamako.
“We made mistakes against 3SC but it is now time to go back and correct our mistakes.
“I believe that when we play (against AS real Bamako in Mali) this weekend, we will improve on our game.
“I am extremely certain that we will come out of that game in flying colours.
“We are assuring Nigerians that we will not let them down as we will come back with a victory,” he said.
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