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Football | CAF Champions League


Osunwa, Ojo urge Nigerian club’s to learn from Al-Merrikh

Kelechi Osunwa and Dayo Ojo have urged Nigerian clubs to learn from the example of Sudanese outfit, Al-Merrikh.

The 16-time Sudanese club completed a mini-miracle in Omdurman at the weekend when they overcame a 3-0 first leg deficit to progress to the group stage of the Caf Champions League at the expense of Nigerian club, Rivers United.

This was after the ‘Red Devils’ beat the Nigerian club 4-0 at the Al-Merrikh Stadium in Omdurman to ease through on a 4-3 aggregate score.

Osunwa says Rivers United took their foot off the gas and duly paid the price.

“Next time, they (Rivers United) should try not to relax when they have a 3-0 first leg advantage,” Osunwa told supersport.com.


“They must also work hard in the second leg. Those were the major lapses I noticed in the Rivers United side and they fell (in Omdurman).

“This is football where you cannot predict what can happen in 90 minutes,” he said.

The Nigerian attacker then took the time to praise the impact of Al-Merrikh’s Italian coach, Diego Garzitto for the miraculous turn around.

Osunwa also revealed that fatigue was the major reason why Merrikh capitulated in Port Harcourt.

“The coach was so upset about the first game in Port Harcourt.

“(But) he also knew that we (the players) were really tired before the game.

“We (simultaneously) play in the Arab Champions League, the Caf Champions League plus the domestic league and Cup.

“We were so tired during that first leg in Port Harcourt and that fatigue was the reason why we lost the game.

“We were so prepared for the (second) game against Rivers United knowing that in the past (2007), we had also beaten (another Nigerian club), Dolphins 6-1.

“We were hopeful that we could qualify in our home,” he said.

Another Nigerian player on the books of the Sudanese club, Dayo Ojo, also took the time to review the cracking contest decided last Saturday.

He identified the important role played by the over 50,000 fans who were vociferous throughout at a bouncing and frenzied Al-Merrikh Stadium, Omdurman.

“We believed we could do it because we spoke to ourselves and decided that if Rivers United could score three goals (in Port Harcourt), we could (also) score four goals at home.

“I thank God that we did it. The pressure was on us in Port Harcourt but it was the opposite in Omdurman.

“We destabilized their game plan.

“Nigerian football fans must learn from Al-Merrikh in the area of supporting their teams.

“The support we got from our fans against Rivers United (in Omdurman) was very very good and that is how we see it every day in domestic and continental matches.

“The fans must continue to support the teams whether they are doing well or not,” he said.

Al-Merrikh have now progressed to the group stage of the Caf Champions League while Rivers United drops to Africa’s second-tier club competition, the Caf Confederation Cup.


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