Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) side Rivers United on Sunday defeated Burkina Faso side Etoile Filante du Ouagadougou 2-0 to advance to the group stage of the 2023/2024 Total Energies CAF Confederation Cup, www.aclsports.com reports.
Both sides played out a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture decided at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro, Coted’voire a fortnight ago and knew that all was to play for in the second leg.
Playing at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt in front of an appreciable crowd which included the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Ngozi Nma Odu, the Pride of Rivers were made to wait till the last few seconds of the game by a dogged defensive display by the Burkinabes led by an exceptional goalkeeper Philippe La Paix Mare.
La Paix Mare gave the hosts a taste of what to expect in the 18th minute when he dived to his right to deny Endurance Ebedebiri from the penalty spot after Rivers United captain Nyima Nwagua was upended inside the box.
The goalkeeper would continue his exploits all through the game including a save from a viciously swerving long range effort by Farouk Mohammed in the second half.
When Mohammed thought he had beaten the goalkeeper in the 69th minute, his penalty kick – Rivers United’s second of the game – hit the outside of the top corner and rebounded to safety, leaving the home fans mouth agape.
Etoile Filante were reduced to ten men aftermath of the penalty kick with Kader Sana picking up his second booking of the game.
A TALE OF 3 PENALTIES— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) October 1, 2023
Rivers United had three spot kicks against Etoile Filante.
First by Endurance Ebedebiri saved by Philippe La Paix Mare, second by Farouk Mohammed denied by the woodwork before Alex Oyowah converted the third, completing his brace.#TotalEnergiesCAFCC pic.twitter.com/YtIV8BMyAW
BREAKTHROUGH AT LAST
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Rivers United eventually got their breakthrough with just one minute of normal time when Alex Oyowah finished from the centre of the penalty box after good work by Kazie Enyinnaya who spurned an offside trap before creating the opportunity.
While Etoile Filante poured forward in the ten minutes of stoppage time for an unlikely equaliser, Rivers United pounced again at the other end with substitute Chiamaka Madu drawing a foul inside the box for United’s third spot kick, this time, Oyowah obliges, finish down the left.
CONSECUTIVE GROUP STAGE SHOWING
Courtesy of Sunday’s result, Stanley Eguma’s Rivers United have now booked a place in the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup for the second season running and are Nigeria’s lone representatives once again.
This feat all but confirms that Nigeria will have four teams in CAF’s Inter Club competitions (Champions League and Confederation Cup) in the next two seasons.
GROUP STAGE DRAWS
Having reached the quarter finals of the Confederation Cup last term, Rivers United, led by Stanley Eguma are into Pot One of the CAF Confederation Cup group stage draws after beating Etoile Filante on Sunday.
The draws will be conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa on Friday, October 6, 2023. The group stage of this season’s competition will commence on November 26, 2023.
Rivers United: Abiodun Akande; Kazie Enyinnaya, Emmanuel Ampiah, Temple Emekayi, Endurance Ebedebiri, Farouk Mohammed, Fatai Abdullahi, Alex Oyowah, Deputy Echeta, Ukeme Williams, Nyima Nwagua.
Etoile Filante: Philippe La Paix Mare; Simon Martey, Ange Ouedraogo, Yacouba Ouedraogo, Patinde Zongo, Emmanuel Ouedraogo, Martin Bley, Kader Sana, Adama Belem, Hondre Justin, Tigassie Landry Banadi.