More Nigerian heartache looms as Stars set to fall
More heartbreak is looming for Nigerian football with Sunshine Stars facing elimination from the CAF Confederation Cup this weekend.
Stars from the south-western town of Akure lost the first leg of a semi-final 1-0 at home two weeks ago with Chad-born goal poacher Ezekiel Ndouassel hitting the early second-half winner for Tunisian visitors Club Africain.
That result leaves the north Africans needing just a draw at home to secure a place in the final of the second-tier African club competitiion loosely modelled on the UEFA Europa League.
The probable departure of Sunshine will complete a dark October for football followers in the most populous country on the continent after CAF Africa Cup of Nations and CAF Champions League failures.
Nigeria conceded a last-minute equaliser against Guinea in Abuja and the 2-2 draw not only deprived the 'Super Eagles' of top place in the group, but prevented them gaining a back-door entry as one of the best two runners-up.
Enyimba, the only Nigerian club to win the Champions League, then became the focus of hope only to be held goalless at home by Moroccan outfit Wydad Casablanca and made a semi-finals exit.
Sunshine will draw hope from a record of two victories and a draw in five away African outings this season and Club Africain must play behind closed doors as punishment for crowd trouble during a group game.
Nigerian coach Gbenga Ogunbote is upbeat despite a home reverse that leaves his team with little chance of making the final against Moghreb Fes of Morcoco or InterClube of Angola. "I do not see Club Africain standing between us and our target of winning this Cup. It is not a crime to fall, but it is a crime to fall and not rise up," he told the Nigerian media.
Club Africain are the only semi-finalist to have won an African title - lifting the Champions Cup 20 years ago with a 7-3 aggregate triumph over Ugandans Nakivubo Villa.
Moghreb have home advantage as they attempt to overcome a 2-1 deficit against InterClube, who snatched victory in Luanda via a late brace from substitute Bruno 'Moco' Fernando after Abdelhafi Halhoul struck in the opening half.
The Moroccan club boast a home record of six victories and a draw and a 16-2 goal tally while the Angolan police team have drawn twice and lost twice on the road.