Nigerian champions Rivers United produced a dogged performance to outclass Motema Pembe 1-0 in their third group stage game of this season’s CAF Confederation Cup (CAFCC) in Luanda.
Stanley Eguma’s United had to produce one of their best away performances on the continent to grind out the crucial three points after they were reduced to ten men when influential left back Ebube Gideon Duru was sent off for a second bookable offence late in the first half.
The Pride of Rivers got what would turn out to be the only goal of the game in the 53rd minute when they spurned a badly set offside trap by their hosts to score. Ghanaian winger Paul Acquah poking home a rebound after Motema Pembe goalkeeper Herve Lomboto had kept out his header to Denis Ngweni Ndasi’s flick.
FT: DC Motema Pembe 0-1 Rivers United— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) February 26, 2023
Despite going down to ten men in the first half, Paul Acquah's second half goal gave the Nigerian champions full marks and are now top of Group B after three matches.#TotalEnergiesCAFCC pic.twitter.com/Hk3j8zq90o
What followed was a disciplined defensive performance by United with invaluable contributions by Ndasi and goalkeeper Sochima Victor Ndukauba who now keeps consecutive clean sheets on the continent for the first time in his career.
United did not however defend all through the game, they also took turns to attack on the break but Acquah and substitute Ifeanyi Francis’s half-hearted attacks were dealt with by the hosts playing their home games at the November 11 Stadium, Luanda after CAF deemed their home turf unplayable.
With usual technical assistance from former Enyimba coach Fatai Osho, Rivers United saw off the game with a triple substitution which flipped their formation to a back three of Ndasi, Temple Emekayi and Edward Lawrence.
The win meant that United move top of Group B with six points from three games, two points ahead of ASEC Mimosas of Coted’voire who recorded their first win of the campaign on Sunday, a 2-0 home win over Diables Noirs who drop to 3rd on head to head.
Rivers United will look to outclass and outplay Motema Pembe once again in the reverse fixture when both teams meet at the Godwill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Wednesday, March 8.