Seven weeks after the 2021/2022 season of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) came to an end, the top four teams that qualified for the CAF Inter-Club continents (CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations Cup), have begun their journey from the preliminary rounds which kicked off this weekend.
Although, in the last 10 years, only five Nigerian Football clubs have made it past the preliminary rounds into the group stages of either of the CAF Inter-Club competition, all seems to be going well with two of the four teams recording home victory and the other two, an away draw.
AS Stade Mandji 2-2 Plateau United
In Central Africa, Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu was unlucky to have secured a victory over AS Stade Mandji of Gabon with the Jos-based side taking the lead twice but being pegged back by their opponent to settle for a 2-2 draw. Goals from Nenrot Silas and Zulkifiliu now puts Plateau United an advantage ahead of the second leg encounter billed for Sunday, 18th December at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.
The winner on aggregate will face four-time African champions Esperance du Tunis in the second preliminary round for a spot in the group stage.
Rivers United 3-0 Watanga
Nigeria’s Champions Rivers United rose to expectation as they walloped Watanga FC of Liberia by three goals. Kenechukwu Agu started the party in the eighth minute of the game, 10 minutes later, Ebube Duru doubled the lead with a 20-yard-shot. Before the end of the first 45, Paul Aquah made it three.
The second leg is slated for Sam Kenyon Stadium in Monrovia with the Nigeria side hoping to protect their three goals advantage.
The eventual winner of the tie will face off with Wydad Casablanca of Morocco for a place in the group stage.
Kwara United 3-0 As Douanes
The fourth-placed side from the just concluded Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, Kwara United were too hot for visiting AS Douanes to handle at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium in Lagos. Five minutes into the game, Paul Samson scored the opener for the Afonja Warriors. Wasiu Jimoh sealed off the game before the end of the first half with a brace in the 17th and 41st minute respectively.
The Nigeriens will host the second leg in Niamey next weekend and will require four goals advantage to progress at the expense of Kwara United.
The winner of the two-leg meetings will face RS Berkane in the second round should they progress.
ASFAR Club 1-1 Remo Stars.
Over 5,000km away from Nigeria, Remo Stars began their first-ever continental competition with an encouraging result. AS FAR of Morocco was Remo Stars’ opponent in the spirited encounter with the home team dominant in the opening stages, Remo Stars secured a vital away goal. ASFAR took the lead in the 27 minutes but it was Adams Olamilekan who headed home the equalizer off a corner four minutes after the break. Remo Stars goalkeeper Kayode Bankole was a crucial player in ensuring they did not concede more than once.
The reverse fixture will take place on Sunday, September 18 at the Remo Stars Stadium in Ikenne.
The winner of both meetings will face the winner of AAGBS of Guinea and Nouakchott CS of Mauritania.