Club Africain inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Rivers United in the CAF Confederation Cup on Sunday as the first round of Group matches took centre stage in Africa’s second tier club competition.
The Nigerian club failed to hit expected heights in the first half as the Tunisians deservedly took a 2-0 lead into the break courtesy of goals from Ifa Bilal who rose highest to head home a corner and Oussama Darragi who converted a penalty with frightening force on the stroke of half time to extend the hosts’ advantage.
The Pride of Rivers stormed back after the break and pulled a goal back through new boy, John Odumegwu who struck a precise effort into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area past the Club Africain goal keeper Faruk Ben Mustapha.
With United on the ascendancy and looking the more likely of the two sides to claim the game’s next goal, disaster struck as Joseph Douhadji scored an own goal to restore Club Africain’s two-goal cushion.
Emeka Ogbugh missed a penalty with just over 11 minutes remaining as the Tunisians closed out a crucial win.
Eguma addressed the media after the defeat insisting that there were positives to draw from the defeat.
“We did not find our feet in the first half and conceded two goals,” he said at the post match press conference.
“In the second half, we corrected our mistakes and scored a goal.
We got a penalty and if we had converted it, it would have made a lot of difference as my boys would have pushed for the equalizer,” he said.
Head coach of Club Africain, Chibeb Ellili also voiced his sentiments after the pulsating contest decided at the Stade Olympique de Radès, Radès.
“Rivers United was fresher than us in the second half because I had four players who had not played for a long time in the team.
“The fitness was not there in the second half. Also, Rivers United had nothing to lose in the second half and they have a lot of fast players with and without the ball,” he said.
Rivers United is in third place in Group A while Club Africain are in second place, trailing the leaders, FUS Rabat only on goals difference.
Ugandan club, KCCA props up the rear ahead of the section’s second round of matches.
Rivers United will next meet FUS Rabat in Port Harcourt on May 24.
Club Africain: Bilel Iffa, Ahmed Khalil, Matthew Rosicky , Oussama Darragi, Nader Ghandri, Ali Abdi, Mokhtar Belkhiter, Ibrahim Chenihi, Fakhreddine Jaziri and Saber Khalifa.
Substitutes: Imed Miniaoui, Mannoubi Haded, Wissam Ben Yahia, Atef Dkhili, Slimen Kchouk, Ghazi Ayadi and Seif Touka.
Rivers United: Sunday Rotimi, Nzube Anaezemba, Joseph Douhadji, Ayobami Asekunowo, Ayo Saka, Bolaji Sakin, Emeka Atuloma, Doumbia Zoumana, Emeka Ogbugh , John Odumegwu and Markson Ojobo.
Substitutes: Femi Thomas, Guy Kuemian, Gabriel Wassa, Obomate Frederick, Onoriode Odah, Maduabuchi Okereke and Shadrach Francis.