Rivers United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma believes his side’s capitulation to Sudanese club, Al-Merreikh in the first round of this year’s Caf Champions League played an important role in their progress to the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup.
United lost the second leg of their first round clash 0-4 to the Red Devils to crash out on a 4-3 aggregate amidst complaints of hostility from the hosts to the Nigerian club.
Eguma said the experiences drawn from that misadventure in Omdurman served his side well in their playoff round game against Rwandan club, Rayon Sport in Kigali last Saturday.
“Rayon Sports has a huge fan base just like Al-Merreikh but the major difference between both clubs is that while Rayon are very hospitable and friendly, we got the reverse from fans of Al-Merreikh who were extremely hostile to us,” Eguma told supersport.com.
“Our players were unsettled by the antics in Sudan and it was one of the reasons we lost by such a wide margin. “It was a big experience for us and we were mindful of that as we arrived in Kigali to face Rayon Sports.
“Rwandans are very friendly and hospitable and I commend them for their high level of maturity which is very good for African football,” he explained. Captain of Rivers United, Festus Austine also echoed his trainer’s sentiments on the lessons drawn from Omdurman.
The centre half said learning to focus more on the task at hand before a tie is decided was one of the major positives drawn from the “disaster in Omdurman.” “The loss in Sudan was demoralizing but it taught us to be focused after winning the first leg of a tie convincingly.
“Even after winning the first leg 2-0 against Rayon Sports, we were still looking forward to scoring more goals (in Kigali). “We knew the tie was not yet decided and we thank God for getting it right,” he told supersport.com.
Austine then added that it would be foolish for United to rest on their laurels and accept qualification for the group stage of the competition as the ultimate victory.
“The target for us to lift the trophy.
“We have taken a big step towards that path by qualifying for the group stage. “Now, we must continue working hard to see that we become the first Nigerian club to win the Caf Confederation Cup trophy,” he said.