Rivers United crash out of CAF Confederation Cup

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Abiodun Akande.
Rivers United goalkeeper Abiodun Akande. (Photo Credit: Score Nigeria 1.)

Rivers United have crashed out of the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup, after losing 2-1 to FUS at the Stade du FUS in Morocco.

Bolaji Sakin gave United a first half lead, but two goals in the second half by Youssef El Gnaoui, in the 52nd minute, and a Mohammed Fouzair penalty, two minutes from time, gave the host a deserved victory.

The Pride of Rivers needed a win in Morocco to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter-final, but their host took initiative, as they started on the front foot.

FUS nearly took an early lead when Gnaoui forced Abiodun Akande in goal for Rivers United into making an excellent save.

United defence was called into question again, three minutes later, but had the combination of defender, Ifeanyi Nweke and Akande to thank as the game remained goalless.

FUS continued to dominate, keeping possession nicely, and asking questions of the United back four. But in Akande, they met a brick wall, as he thwarted their every move.

FUS kept missing glittering chances, and came close to finding a breakthrough with four minutes left in the first. But Gnaoui effort only found the woodwork, with Akande well beaten.

The home side paid for their profligacy in front of goal, as United took an unexpected lead, with just a minute left before the break.

Sakin.
Sakin Bolaji (right) scored United’s only goal against FUS.

Nweke broke on the right flank before sending a cross into the FUS box, which goalkeeper, Aymane Majid failed the deal, falling for the on-rushing Bolaji Sakin, who calmly finished to give United a half time lead.

FUS started the second half as they did the first, on a strong note, and ten minutes after the break, their dominance was rewarded.

The home side equalized after Mehdi El Bassil dispossessed Benard Ovoke before setting up the lively Gnaoui, who finished from close range as FUS were back on level terms.

The home side continued to dominate the game, with the Nigerians happy to soak up the pressure, and play on the counter.

FUS almost doubled their lead with ten minutes left to play, however, El Bassil’s effort hits the outside of the upright.

Four minutes later, a double save by Akande to deny Benlamachi kept the game level. But Akande was helpless as FUS finally scored a second, two minutes from time.

Any hopes United had of taking something positive out of the match disappeared when the referee pointed to the spot, after Festus Austine handled the ball in the box. Mohamed Fouzaire stepped forward to score a delightful panenka, which left Akande for cold, as the home side led for the first time in the match.

The result ensured Rivers United finished bottom of Group A with six points from six matches, while FUS progressed to the quarter-finals as runners-up, behind group winners, Club Africain.

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