Lobi Stars

They started the season with so much promise, beating Memolodi Sundowns of South Africa in their opening game. The victory at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu made many Nigerian football lovers that at last another team, other than Enyimba, would give the country a good representation in the CAF Champions League.

Since Enyimba won the CAF Champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004, no other Nigerian side have reached the final of the competition, which rewards the winner with a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup.

Lobi started as if they were ready to buck the trend with the manner they came from behind to defeat Sundowns 2-1. But they lost their next game in Abidjan by a lone goal to today’s opponents.

Rather than rebound with their home game against Wydad Athletic of Morocco in their third game, the Nigerians were beaten 0-1 in Enugu by the North Africans.

A goalless draw against the North Africans in Morocco flattered to deceive Lobi Stars’ fans, who hoped that their side would get at least a draw in South Africa against Sundowns. But the Makurdi-based side put up their worst first half performance in the series to fall 0-3 to the group leaders. They now occupy the last spot on the Group A table with four points and a minus seven goals difference.

Leaders, Sundowns are on 10 points followed by Asec Mimosas and Wydad, who have seven points apiece with Asec’s superior goals scored keeping on the second spot.

Lobi still have a mathematical chance of going through, but that would only happen if they defeat Asec with a high goal margin and Sundowns beat Wydad in Casablanca in the other game. Tough task for a team that have not won any Champions League game in four outings.

Looking back on what would have been, Lobi Stars’ Coach, Solomon Ogbeide said his side have learnt valuable lessons in the competition, which would serve them well going forward.

He believes Lobi Stars would have been in a better position if they had not succumbed to early jitters in the last game against Sundowns.

“It was so unfortunate that we lost to Mamelodi Sundowns despite our preparation for that game. We lost it due to the early goal because we had our plans mapped out to surprise them but the goal we conceded at the time did turn everything around against us,” Ogbeide said.

“We had an improved game in the second half but the first half performance proved to be our undoing. We had some issues going to the game but it was not the type of result that we expected. We hope to learn a lot from the games we have played in the competition to help us in our future participation.

“We hope to bounce back from this defeat and chart a way forward. We are going back home to do a holistic study of what we might have done wrong or right. We apologise for our woeful performance in Pretoria.”

Ogbeide consolation is that they have the opportunity to end their campaign on a high note with victory over Asec Mimosas, but he is not given to futile hopes of a miracle happening in Casablanca.

“We hope to stage a comeback in the competition at the earlier possible period. It was disappointing that we had to leave the stage at this time,” he said.


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