Nigerian clubs progress in CAF competitions
Plateau United, MFM FC and Akwa United all secured wins in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup on Wednesday, as all of Nigeria's three representatives progressed.
Plateau United made light work of Eding Sport by securing a 1-0 away victory in Cameroon, progressing to the next round of the CAF Champions League on the strength of a 4-0 aggregate win.
Raphael Ayagwa was the match-winner for the Nigeria league champions, the lanky midfielder's second-half strike earning the Jos-based club a 100-percent record over both legs.
Next up for coach Kennedy Boboye and his ambitious side are Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel in a fortnight.
The encounter promises to be a testing one for the relatively inexperienced Nigerian side who lack the pedigree of their opponents.
However, Plateau United can draw some inspiration from Enyimba FC, who defeated the Tunisians on penalties two years ago at this stage of the competition, as they aim to achieve a historic first-ever group-stage appearance.
Chijioke Akuneto's 83rd-minute winner was enough to seal a 2-1 aggregate win for MFM FC against AS Real Bamako on Wednesday, as they also progressed to the First Round.
The keenly contested game initially looked to be heading for a second successive draw, following a 1-1 in Mali 10 days ago.
However, Akuneto, handed a start in the absence of the injured Adekunle Adegboyega, headed in the winner to send a Lagos crowd witnessing their first continental football for close to two decades into jubilant mood.
The win secured a date for MFM FC against seasoned Algerian campaigners MC Alger in the first round, a test of nerves for the debutant Nigerian rookies.
Cyril Olisema struck in either half to complete a fight back for Akwa United away to Banjul Hawks, as the Aiteo Cup holders emerged 2-0 victors in Banjul -- and 3-2 on aggregate -- after suffering a shock first-leg defeat in Uyo.
Increased pressure from the Promise Keepers led to a Gambian player handling the ball in the box, but Dennis Nya struck his effort against the post to the relief of the home team.
Victor Mbaoma saw a certain goal cleared off the line by Antou Badjan in the 31st minute, but there was no stopping Akwa United five minutes later as Olisema calmly slotted past goalkeeper Gassama to put his team in the driving seat.
The advantage was doubled at the start of the second half by Olisema. It was a goal which earns the Nigerians a meeting with Al-Ittihad Tripoli of Libya in the next round.