President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau has challenged Rivers United, Plateau United and Kwara United to ensure progress into the group stages of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup respectively, following battling performances against North African opponents in Nigeria on Sunday.
All three clubs came from behind to win their matches, with Confederation Cup contenders Kwara United trouncing Cup holders RS Berkane of Morocco 3-1 at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos. Plateau United and Rivers United, in the CAF Champions League, edged Esperance of Tunisia and Cup holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 2-1 in Abuja and Port Harcourt respectively.
“Our teams have done well in the first leg matches, but I want them to go all out in the return games because North African playgrounds are usually difficult ones for most teams. They showed the Nigerian spirit in an excellent way to come from behind and win their matches at home, but they will need to show this spirit in an even more pronounced manner in the second leg matches.
“The NFF is backing all three teams to reach the lucrative group stages of their competitions,” said Gusau who, in company with Plateau State Governor, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong and Youth and Sports Minister, Hon. Sunday Dare watched Plateau United come from a goal down to defeat the Blood and Gold at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja. Both teams meet in Tunis next week.
Kwara United were a goal down to Cup holders RS Berkane after only seven minutes in Lagos, but they flowed with strong current in the second period at the arena formerly known as Onikan waterfront.
Rivers United also played manfully against one of the most experienced campaigners in African club football and got a narrow win that could stand for something when both teams clash again at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca next weekend.