An own goal and a missed penalty proved decisive as Club Africain overpowered Rivers United 3-1 in an explosive Caf Confederation Cup clash in Tunis on Sunday.
United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma made five changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Rayon Sports in Kigali in their last Caf Confederation Cup game in April.
The changes seemed less than inspired as the ‘Pride of Rivers’ struggled for fluency early on.
It was no real surprise when Club Africain took the lead in the 23rd minute through Ifa Bilal who rose highest to head home a corner before Oussama Darragi [celebrating below] converted a penalty on the stroke of half time to extend the hosts’ advantage.
United looked a beaten side at the break but Eguma’s team talk in the changing room seemed to galvanise United at the restart and they duly got a goal back to hurl themselves back into the contest in the 53rd minute through debutant, John Odumegwu.[below]
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 cut a philosophical picture after the defeat but insisted that there were positives to draw from the defeat.
“The two most important periods in the game were when we missed the penalty and the own goal.
“That’s football. We will not blame anyone because we played well, especially in the second half.
“I must also state that we did not play too well in the first half and failed to convert the many chances that came our way,” he said.
Rivers United are 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.