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Stats: 13 members, 72 topics. Date: February 23, 2019, 7:21 am
Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Champions League Lobi Stars on Saturday face a tough test in their second Group A match against Ivory Coast champions ASEC Momosas at the Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.
Last week, Lobi had a tough game in their opening match in the group when they rallied from a goal down to beat South African champions Mamolodi Sundowns 2-1 in Enugu. But the Ivorian side lost 5-2 to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in their first match.
The hosts are seeking all three points to put their chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition back on track while the Nigerians would hope for a positive result to boost their chances of also progressing from the group for the first time in their history.
Lobi had previously in 2000 crashed out in the group stage of the Champions League when they made their debut in the competition.
The Makurdi club are second in Group A with three points – same as top placed Wydad – while ASEC are placed fourth in the group with no point after matchday one.
The Ivorians have suffered only one loss in the competition – last week’s 5-2 loss to Wydad in Morocco, which ended their four-match unbeaten run in this year’s competition. Before the loss, they had recorded three wins and one draw.
But Lobi have lost two matches in the Champions League this season. They lost 1-0 to USM de Loum of Cameroon in the preliminary round before recording a 3-1 loss to Gor Mahia in Nairobi in first round of the competition.
ASEC coach Amani Yao urged his team to be ruthless in front of goal as the 1998 Champions League winners target their first win in the group.
“We tried to work to erase our mistakes, the mistakes we made in Rabat, so that we can try to be successful on Saturday,” Yao said.
“We will try to approach this game well, whether in attack or defence. We will have to be effective in front of goal.”
But Lobi coach Solomon Ogbeide said his side will take the game to Mimosas as they look to secure their second successive win in Group A.
“We haven’t won anything yet but we can now build on the victory against Mamelodi Sundowns to focus on the next game against ASEC,”Ogbeide told our correspondent during the week.
“We have a good spirit, and remain positive going for the away game against ASEC and we are going to take the game to them in Abidjan.
“There are no small teams in the group and we are still the underdogs because the other three teams, ASEC, Wydad and Sundowns are past winners of the Champions League.”
Lobi will be without midfielder John Lawrence, who was suspended for involving in a fight with Gor Mahia players earlier in the competition, as well as Sikiru Alimi, Samad Kadiri, and Anthony Agbaji who have reportedly travelled out for trials in Europe.
“We will have to focus our strategy around those that are available. We did the same thing against Sundowns and we won. We know it will not be easy especially since they lost their first match and they are at home. But we want to get all the points we can before facing the North Africans who will be tough for us as well,” the veteran coach said.
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