Rampant MFM, Plateau Utd, Akwa Utd Zoom into Next Round

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Femi Solaja

For the first time in recent participation, all the three Nigerian representatives in all the continental club competitions scaled through to the next stage of the both CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup respectively.

Although the two Nigerian representatives in the Champions League, MFC and Plateau United already had one leg in the next round each before their respective return leg fixtures wednesday, it was Akwa United of Uyo that proved pundits wrong with a massive 2-0 away win over Real de Banjul of Gambia.

Cyril Olisema scored a brace for Akwa United to avenge the home loss in Uyo last week and qualified the Promise Keepers 3-2 on aggregate for the CAF Confederation Cup first round.

The 2017 AITEO FA Cup champions will now face Al-Ittihad of Libya who also qualified to the next stage of the competition last night after securing 3-0 defeat of Sahel FC.

The bright day for Nigerian club participation kicked off at the Temple of Football in Agege, Lagos where Chijioke Akuneto was on target and became the first scorer of an international goal at the refurbished arena as the church team pipped Real Bamako of Mali to progressing to the next stage of CAF Champions League 2-1 on aggregate.

The Nigerians drew 1-1 in the first leg played in Mali, and after a goalless first half, Akuneto scored the winner for MFM 10 minutes before full time.

He connected a well delivered cross by Abayomi Lawal with a firm header which left the goalkeeper of the visitors stranded between the post. They hanged on to that goal to seal a well deserved victory.

Campaigning in the tournament for the first time after their surprise second place finish last season in the Nigeria Professional Football League, MFM FC have surprised many with the result over the Malians.
MFM FC will now take on high scoring Mouloudia Club de Algeria who eliminated A.S Otoho of Congo Brazzaville 9-2 on aggregate. The Congolese side won 2-0 at home last week but lost the return leg in a scandalous 9-0 defeat in Algiers last night.

In the other match yesterday, Raphael Ayagwa lifted 10-man Nigerian league champions Plateau United to victory with a lone goal away at Eding Sport of Cameroon yesterday.
The midfielder scored the only goal of the game that gave the Jos team a 4-1 aggregate victory after winning the first leg 3-0 in Nigeria.

It wasn’t all smooth for the Nigerians as they were reduced to 10 men following a red card handed out six minutes to the end of the game. They however hanged on to claim a memorable win which secures their passage to the next round.

The representatives will now take on Tunisian giants Etoile Du Sahel in the final round of qualifiers for a place in the money spinning group stage of Africa’s most prestigious club competition.

The performance of all the Nigerian teams yesterday was the opposite of their last outing in the continental club competition as they all crashed out in the early stage last season.