It was a match they were expected to win to maintain their quest for a semifinal spot in the CAF Confederation Cup, but Rivers United lost woefully to visiting Club Africain at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The 2-0 defeat in the Group A match means that only a miracle will see them getting close to the semifinals of the competition as Club Africain are now on nine points, while the Nigerians are bottom of the log on six points.
Rivers United flattered to deceive in the early minutes of the game with Bernard Ovoke taking the fight to the Tunisians. But the first real talking point was in the 28th minute when Club Africain’s Manoubi Haddad drew a save from Femi Thomas off a freekick.
From then on wards, the Tunisians took over the show with Oussama Darragi and Haddad taking turns to test Thomas. The first half ended goalless.
Coach Stanley Eguma brought in Mohammed Lukman early in the second-half as he searched for goals, but the Tunisians broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute.
A Club Africain player was brought down close to Rivers United box and Haddad stepped up to bend his free kick beyond the flailing dive of Thomas.
Stunned by the goal, Rivers United stepped up their game, but poor marksmanship denied them goals.
What would have been the equalizer was missed by Bernard Ovoke, who outpaced the Tunisians’ defence in the 76th minute, but shot agonizingly off target.
Just when the scanty crowd were praying for the team to get the equalizer, Club Africain struck again, albeit a deflated Mokhtar Belkhiter strike wrong footing Thomas to make it 2-0.