Heartbreak for Enugu Rangers after stunning CAF Cup triumph
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Enugu Rangers of Nigeria pulled off a stunning CAF Confederation Cup triumph away to Pyramids of Egypt on Sunday, but it was in vain as they were eliminated after matchday five.
Having won 1-0 in Cairo through an Ifeanyi George goal, Enugu needed Nouadhibou of Mauritania to avoid defeat against Al Masry of Egypt a few hours later.
The Group A match remained goalless for 86 minutes before Saidou Simpore netted to give Masry a 1-0 victory and second place, and Enugu were eliminated.
Pyramids have 12 points with one series of matches to come on February 2, Masry nine, Enugu five and Nouadhibou two with the top two finishers qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Despite lacking seven of their squad through injuries and a suspension, Enugu fulfilled a promise to attack Pyramids and seek revenge for a 3-1 home loss in the opening matchday.
Ghanaian John Antwi of Pyramids and Emmanuel Madu of Enugu were foiled by the woodwork during a lively opening half.
The only goal came on 73 minutes when George burst on to a pass from Isaac Loute and fired past goalkeeper Mahdy Soliman for his third of the African campaign.
It was the first group victory for Enugu after two draws and two losses while Pyramids surrendered a 10-match unbeaten run since the Confederation Cup season began.
Pyramids are sure of first place despite the setback as they have a superior head-to-head record against Masry, who could draw level on points.
The leaders are away to Nouadhibou in the final matchday while Masry visit Enugu in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
- Recovered from shock -
Elsewhere, Renaissance Berkane and Hassania Agadir of Morocco, Horoya of Guinea and Al Nasr of Libya booked places in the February 9 quarter-finals draw.
Berkane, runners-up to Zamalek of Egypt last season, recovered from the shock of conceding a first-minute goal to trounce African rookies ESAE of Benin 5-1 in Group B.
Alaedine Ajaray bagged a hat-trick for Renaissance in Porto-Novo and Hamdi Laachir claimed his fifth goal of the campaign.
Moussa Souleymane netted in stoppage time to give Zanaco of Zambia a 2-1 comeback win over Daring Club Motema Pembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Lusaka.
The Zambians hold a two-point advantage over the Congolese but have a potentially much tougher final fixture, away to Berkane, than Motema Pembe, who host ESAE.
Group C leaders Horoya overcame 10-man Bidvest Wits of South Africa 2-1 in Conakry to retain a three-point lead with Boniface Haba scoring the winning goal during the second half.
Djoliba of Mali were expected to be the other qualifiers from the section, but bowed out after a shock 1-0 home loss to Nasr in Bamako with Moataz al Mehdi scoring.
Leaders Agadir made a perfect start away to Enyimba of Nigeria in Group D with Youssef el Fahli netting after three minutes, but Austin Oladapo levelled in a 1-1 draw in Aba.
Twice African champions Enyimba will be sure of a place in the knockout phase provided they avoid defeat in the Ivory Coast against San Pedro, who drew 0-0 with Paradou in Algeria.
© 2020 AFP