Nigeria’s representative in the 2018/19 CAF Champions League Lobi Stars were on Saturday afternoon subdued 1-0 by their visitors Wydad Casablanca in their third group A game decided at their adopted home ground in Enugu.
The Pride of Benue were made to pay for their initial lethargy as the game’s match winner came as early as the 20th minute from the penalty spot after Lobi’s erratic Beninoise left back Sanni Bar-Yere was penalised for a rash foul inside the box. Mohammed Nahiri converted the kick emphatically, sending Lobi goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode the wrong direction.
20' GOAL for Wydad
Lobi Stars 0-1 Wydad Casablanca
— ACLSports (@acl_sports) February 2, 2019
The penalty decision came just four minutes after centre referee Jean-Jacques Ndala Ngambo overlooked a penalty appeal by the North Africans after Mohammed Ounnajem claimed that defender Ekene Olisema had brought him down inside the box. His decision led to serious bullying and protestation by the Wydad players which resulted in Aymane Al Hassouni being booked.
Just look at these Wydad Casablanca players practically harassing the referee for not giving a penalty call.
— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) February 2, 2019
Lobi improved more before the break and could have levelled scores six minutes to the interval after Bar-Yere set up debutant Michael Stephen with a delightful cross. The striker’s header was superbly turned away for a corner by Wydad goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti.
Lobi sought to create more after the break and it was Stephen that also went close just three minutes into the second half. Samad Kadri had beaten goalkeeper Tagnaouti to the ball and acrobatically crossed for Stephen who could only head wide with only a defender and an empty net gaping.
Kadri was then denied by Tagnaouti with a super save seven minutes later before the striker succumbed to injury on the hour mark. Samad’s replacement Austin Ogunye then went closest for Lobi but his effort came off the cross bar.
As Lobi poured forward, they also became porous at the back and Wydad were awarded a second penalty following a John Lazarus foul on Ounnajem. This time, the striker dusted himself off and fired against the foot of the right hand post and into safety.
The two goalkeepers made further saves to keep the scoreline at 1-0. First, Tagnaouti turned Lazarus’ free kick over three minutes from time before Kayode brilliantly saved substitute Hamza Elowasti’s header in stoppage time.
The loss keeps Lobi at the foot of the Group A table along with ASEC Mimosas on three points after two games. Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad now have six points after the South Africans beat ASEC 3-1 on Friday night. Lobi will next travel to Morocco in ten days’ time for the reverse fixture of this tie against the 2017 Champions League winners, Wydad.