Nigeria’s representatives in this season’s CAF continental club tournaments Rangers and Lobi Stars are walking tight ropes after unconvincing results in their first leg preliminary round games decided on Wednesday.
Confederation Cup hopeful, Rangers needed two second half penalties to defeat Ethiopian side Defence Force 2-0 at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in the Eastern part of Nigeria.
Midfielder Godwin Aguda gave Rangers the lead from the spot in the 54th minute after the first half had ended scoreless. Aguda, one of the few remaining members of the 2016 Nigeria Professional Football League winning side once again stepped up to convert from twelve yards to seal the victory for Rangers six minutes from time.
The Flying Antelopes will travel to Addis Ababa for the return leg scheduled for next Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital city.
Rangers coach Gbenga Ogunbote believes his team’s clean sheet will count in the end for them.
“It was a good game that would have seen more goals but for our inability to convert some begging chances. I give kudos to my players for holding their own despite all the challenges that came our way as we prepared for this encounter.
“It is good we did not concede any goal today going into the second leg as we hope to build on the positives from this match. Our dream is on and we must keep pushing until we get to the target we set for ourselves.”
In the Champions League, Nigeria’s sole representative, Lobi Stars opened their campaign with a narrow 0-1 loss to Cameroonian side UMS de Loum in Yaounde on Wednesday afternoon.
Jean Abanda Koa netted the game’s only goal in the 65th minute of the encounter decided at the Military Stadium in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital. The Nigerians subsequently tried to restore parity but poor marksmanship denied them on a couple of occasions.
Lobi Stars will now have to overturn the slim deficit when they host the second leg next week at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi. This is the first time Lobi Stars are playing in a continental tournament after their 8-4 humiliation in the hands of Mozambican side Liga Muçulmuna in 2013.