Impressive CAF Champions League debuts for Nigerians

web_photo_Joshua Obaje_12022018

Joshua Obaje of Nigeria during the CAF African Nations Championships match between Ghana and Nigeria on the 29 January 2014 at Free State Stadium.

Joshua Obaje of Nigeria during the CAF African Nations Championships match between Ghana and Nigeria on the 29 January 2014 at Free State Stadium.

JOHANNESBURG - Nigerian newcomers made impressive starts to the CAF Champions League Sunday with Plateau United winning convincingly at home and Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) drawing on the road.

Late goals from Sunday Ingbede and Joshua Obaje for Plateau completed a 3-0 victory over fellow African rookies Eding Sport of Cameroon in central city Jos.

Elijah Ogene had put the Nigerian champions ahead midway through the opening half of a preliminary round first leg in the premier African club competition.

The sides meet again later this month in Yaounde and it would be a shock if United surrendered a convincing aggregate advantage, particularly as they did not concede at home.

Should Plateau advance, they will face 2007 champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia for a place in the 16-club group draw.

MFM, who are bankrolled by a popular Pentecostal church, scored first during a 1-1 draw at Real Bamako of Mali that places them in pole position to reach the next round.

The Nigerian league runners-up scored after 15 minutes through Nojeem Akinyemi only for Mohamed Camara to equalise just two minutes later.

Real have upset several Nigerian clubs in CAF competitions, but they are on the backfoot this time as a goalless draw in Nigeria will suffice for MFM to progress.

Overall success for MFM would pit them against Otoho of Congo Brazzaville or 1976 champions Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, who lost the first leg 2-0 in central Africa.  

Enyimba is the only Nigerian club to win the CAF Champions League or its forerunner, the African Cup of Champions Clubs.

They won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004, but no other Nigerian club has come close to matching the "Peoples Elephant", who also lifted the CAF Super Cup twice.

Nigerian clubs fared particularly poorly in the Champions League last season with Enugu Rangers and Rivers United bowing out before the mini-league stage.

Mamane Cisse and Bersyl Obassi netted in the second half for newcomers Otoho in Congo Brazzaville against vastly experienced African campaigners Mouloudia.  

Entente Setif, the other title contenders from Algeria, fared much better as they hammered hapless Olympic Real Bangui of the Central African Republic 6-0 in north Africa.

Zakaria Haddouche scored a hat-trick and Akram Djahnit bagged a brace for the club who were crowned African champions in 1988 and 2014.

While the Algerian "Black Eagles" are virtually assured of a last-32 place, who they would face next is not obvious.

Al Tahaddy of Libya, who cannot host matches in Benghazi because of ongoing post-Moamer Kadhafi era violence, built a 1-0 lead over Aduana Stars of Ghana in Cairo. 

Mahmoud Ali scored the only goal just past the half-hour as Tahaddy seek to make an impact 40 years after last appearing in the premier African club competition.    

Liberian outfit LISCR shocked twice runners-up Al Hilal of Sudan 1-0 in Monrovia through a Sheriff Sheku goal to complete a miserable weekend for the east African nation.

Al Merrikh, the arch domestic rivals of Hilal, crashed 3-0 away to modest Township Rollers of Botswana in Gaborone Saturday.