CAF Confederation Cup: NPFL Clubs’ Poor Displays Disappointing- Football Fans

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Some football enthusiasts have expressed disappointment in the poor performance of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clubs in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup.

Only one of the four NPFL clubs which competed in the 2018 CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup competitions is still standing.

Only Enyimba International Football Club of Aba made it to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Three of Nigeria’s four representatives on the continent, Plateau United, MFM FC and Akwa United, were all eliminated at the playoffs stage of the second tier CAF Confederation Cup competition.

NPFL defending champions Plateau United, which dropped from the Champions League after the second round, lost 2-5 on aggregate to USM Alger after losing 4-0 in Algeria in the second leg.

MFM FC, which also dropped from the Champions League, held Djoliba AC to a goalless draw in Mali in what looked like a futile exercise.

The result was not enough for the Lagos-based side after losing the first leg 0-1 in Agege.

Aiteo Cup champions Akwa United were looking at turning around a 2-0 deficit to Al-Hilal of Sudan.

But they could only muster a 3-1 win in Uyo in the second leg, thus losing on the away goal rule after a 3-3 aggregate score.

However, Enyimba progressed on away goal rule having held Bidvest Wits of South Africa to a goalless draw in Calabar after the first leg had ended 1-1 in Johannesburg.

The poor outing meant that Mozambique have replaced Nigeria in the ranking of countries which provide two clubs each in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.

A cross-section of football enthusiasts who spoke to newsmen in separate interviews expressed disappointment with the results, adding that the NPFL clubs lacked experience and adequate planning.

They, however, urged Enyimba to raise their game and ensure they win the Confederation Cup to appease Nigerians who are unhappy with the other clubs’ poor showing.

Musa Talle, Chairman of FCT Football Association, said it was obvious from the performances of the NPFL clubs that they failed to plan properly.

“One can clearly see from the performances of the four clubs that proper planning and experience matters when it comes to competitions such as these.

“Enyimba was a mile above the other three clubs which participated in the CAF Confederation Cup playoffs, with regards to these two important factors,” he said.

Ex-Nigeria international, Moses Kpakor, on his part noted that lack of consistency at squad level was one of the reasons Nigerian clubs have not been doing well in CAF club competitions.

Kpakor, who won the then CAF Cup Winners Cup with BCC Lions in 1990, said players and coaches must spend time together for a long time in order to succeed on the continent.

“The problems with Nigerian clubs on the continent are multi-dimensional,” Kpakor stated.

“But I think that players change clubs too frequently. Clubs sack too many players by the end of each season, which means the players don’t get to understand each other.

“By the end of this season, you will hear clubs sacking 15 players and these are the same clubs who just few months ago recruited 30 players.

“So, these are some of the problems our clubs face. Hardly will you see a club that has players who have played together for up to four years.

“When you look at the BCC Lions in those years, you see players who have played for seven or eight years together. Every year you hear the name of the same players,” he said.

“By implication, it means coaches have problems when it comes to introducing systems that can win matches when players are recruited and replaced too frequently.

“Similarly, if a coach comes with a new system in the first season and is allowed to continue, by the second season, the players would have grabbed what he is trying to pass across to them,” he added.

Also, Emmanuel Amakiri, the Proprietor of Amakson Football Academy in Abuja, said Nigerian clubs would continue to struggle in African club competitions if something drastic was not done.

He posited that the main problem behind the failure of NPFL clubs on the continent had to do with the structure of the clubs.

“Nigerian clubs will continue to struggle because they don’t have the structure and tradition of their counterparts they are competing with on the continent.

“Enyimba is the only team that has the semblance of a professional side with history and tradition.

“Again, we need to educate our football administrators, because they are our number one problem. They are dependent on government appropriations.

“We have tried it for the past 20 years and it did not work. It’s high time these clubs are run properly and independently.

“People should come together and take over the running of clubs and give them good structures and tradition to challenge the rest of Africa, like it was in the days of old,” he said.

Meanwhile, two-time African champions Enyimba are among the four clubs seeded for Saturday’s CAF Confederation Cup group stage draw scheduled to take place in Cairo.

The four clubs were seeded by their performances in CAF competitions in the previous five seasons.

The three other clubs are USM Alger who knocked out Plateau United, Sudan’s Al Hilal who were responsible for the exit of Akwa United, and AS Vita Club of DR Congo.

The other 12 clubs will be pooled in any of the four groups of four clubs each.

Matches in the group stages will now be played on Wednesdays and Sundays, according to the new schedule released by CAF.

Enyimba will be hoping to become the first Nigerian club to win the competition.

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