Lone surviving Nigerian club, Rivers United, boosted their chances of a place at the group stage with slim 2-0 win over visiting, Rayon Sports of Rwanda in the 2nd 1/16th round first leg on Sunday in Port Harcourt.

Emeka Atuloma benefited from some slack defending from the rear guard of the visitors to fire in an unstoppable shot past a stranded Eric Ndayishimiye who was between the sticks for Rayon Sports to send the scanty crowd that showed up for the match into wild jubilation at the half-hour mark.

Efforts by the quartet of Savio Nshuti, Moussa Camara, Djabel Nanishimwe and Kwizera Pierrot to cut open the back line of Rivers United did not yield any dividend as goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi was always alert to thwart such efforts whenever his defense line was breached and this occurred four times in the first half.

Ivorian import, Guy Keumian found enough time to latch onto a defense splitting cross to volley home on 51 minutes to calm some nerves both on the pitch and in the stands.

Djuma Masudi in a post match said “when you play matches, you expect a win, draw or loss and I accept that we have lost this game. However, this is just the first ninety minutes of the entire encounter as the remaining time will be played in Kigali. I have seen the strength and weakness of our opponent and we are going back to prepare well for the return leg with the ticket for the group stage in our minds. Anything is still very possible in the return leg”.

His counterpart, Willy Udube of Rivers United said “it was a very good match as our opponent came here to also play but we showed character to get the win. No doubt, we did get it all right hence, just two goals to show for our efforts. We still have pictures of what happened in Omdurman (lost to El Merreikh 4-0) etched in our minds so we are going for the return leg with the aim of preventing a repeat of such in Kigali. We are going to neutralize the ball juggling spirit of the Rwandans”.

Captain of Rivers United, Festus Austin added: “We should have scored more goals today to make the return leg in Kigali a mere formality, but I believe we are in the driving seat. Our target is to come back from Rwanda with a win and the last ticket for the group stage. We played against a very good side but showed character to overcome them which we hope to repeat in a few days”.

The second leg will take place on Saturday, 22 April 2017 in Kigali, with the winner completing the line-up for the group stage.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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