Lobi, Rangers Through to Next Round of CAF Competitions

Dibaba Wendimu of Defence Force is challenged by Chiamaka Madu, Semiu Liadi and Akpos Adubi of Rangers

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Nigeria’s two teams in continental campaigns, Lobi Stars of Makurdi and Enugu Rangers progressed to the next round of both the CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup yesterday with relative ease.

In the CAF Champions League preliminary round second leg game, reigning Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions Lobi Stars defeated UMS de Loum of Cameroon 2-0 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu to cancel out the 1-0 defeat from the first leg a fortnight ago.

Lobi is to face Gor Mahia of Kenya in the first round of the championship proper.

It was a similar sweet song for the Flying Antelopes and their fans far away in Ethiopia as the reigning AITEO Cup champions crushed Defence Force S.C 3-1 in the second leg, preliminary round of CAF Confederation Cup.

Rangers had earlier defeated the Ethiopian army team 2-0 in the first leg at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

Dibaba Wendimu steeled his nerve to send Rangers shot stopper, Nana Bonsu the wrong way from the penalty spot on the third minute of play after a hand ball incidence was spotted by the referee.

The host continued to pressure the backline of visitors in search of more goals as their vociferous fans cheered them on but the duo of Akpos Adubi and Semiu Liadi held out on the day.

As the match wore on, Rangers gradually settled into the game and pushed back the host but were unlucky not to have leveled up before the 36th minute when Bright Silas slammed home an inviting cross from Isaac Loute.

On 40 minutes, Godwin Aguda dusted himself after he was upended in the box to slot home from the spot for Rangers second goal of the day.

Ajani Ibrahim came close to extending the lead with only a few seconds to end the first half but Beyene Yidnekachew did enough to push it out to safety.

On resumption of the second half, the host started the way they did the first with Fikadu Gadissa, Firew Ayele and Dawit Asfaw pulling the strings in the middle of the pack but could not do much in the third half of the pitch as Ugonna Uzochukwu and Chiamaka Madu had the defence line well screened.

Super-sub, Kelvin Itoya was thrown into the fray with only twenty minutes left on the clock and his combination with Ajani Ibrahim and Bright Silas came to a devastating effect as his cheeky shot inside the opponent’s vital area sailed unhindered into the net for Rangers’ third goal of the day in the 79th minute.

Rangers Coach, Gbenga Ogunbote said at the post match conference: “First of all, we thank God for the victory against a good side that loves to keep the ball but failed to do the needful when it mattered.

“Experience gave us the edge knowing that we came here with a two goals lead and conceding very early gave us cause for some concern but we gradually came into the match and got the result we needed.”

With this result, the seven-time Nigerian league champions have qualified for the first round of the competition and await the winner between Algerian and Liberian champions in less than two weeks.