CAF Confed. Cup
Playoff round: Second leg
Rayon Sports 0-0 Rivers United (Agg. 0-2)
Rayon Sports head coach Masudi Djuma has admitted his side were victims of self-inflicted pressure as they sought to overturn a 2-0 deficit but instead ended up being knocked out of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup by Nigeria’s Rivers United following a goalless draw in the second leg on Saturday at Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali.
The Peace Cup holders needed a 2-0 win to take the tie into extra time or at least a 3-0 victory to advance to the continental competition’s group stage.
However, they could not achieve their mission against a resilient Rivers United side that set out to neutralise any Rayon attack despite playing with 10 players for a better part of the second half following the sending off of their captain Nweke Ifeanyi in the 56th minute.
Despite the hosts dominating the game for larger spells, the match ended goalless hence Rivers United advancing on a 2-0 aggregate score to the group stage at their first appearance in a CAF competition.
Rivers United came into the game seeking to avoid a repeat of what happened to them recently, against El Merreikh of Sudan when they crashed out of the CAF Champions League. Despite taking a 3-0 first leg advantage to Omdurman, Rivers United lost 4-0 to crash out 4-3 on aggregate.
“It was a very disappointing result for the team and the fans, we sacrificed everything for this game, we wanted to make history (by reaching the lucrative group stages) but we missed that opportunity, congratulations to Rivers United,” a visibly disappointed Masudi said after the match.
He added, “We played with so much pressure to score at least one goal in the first-half; however, Rivers United came with a mission to defend the whole game and that is exactly what they did and they did it perfectly.”
Rayon Sports, knowing they needed an early goal to get the fans going, began the game with dominance; however, Rivers United’s solid defence denied them any chance.
The hosts’ first clear cut opportunity came in the 27th minute after Malian striker Tidiane Kone was fouled about 25 yards from the penalty box. Pierrot Kwizera curled in a perfect ball that went begging as no Rayon Sports player made any contact.
Three minutes later, another chance arrived through a corner from Dominique Savio Nshuti; however, United goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi rose highest to punch the ball away to safety.
The Nigerian outfit relied on counterattacks and looked confident whenever they were in possession and at the stroke of half-time they came close to taking the lead after striker Bolaji Sakin found himself with goalie Eric ‘Bakame’ Ndayishimiye but his shot went above the cross bar.
Masudi made a double substitution at the start of the second-half with left back Eric Irambona replacing Tidiane, while midfielder Olivier Sefu Niyonzima came on for Francois Mugisha.
The changes had immediate impact as Rayon piled more pressure on the visitors. Rayon Sports missed another brilliant chance after Eric Irombona’s through ball was curled in by Shassir Nahimana but it went just inches wide of the post.
Rivers United technical manager Stanley Eguma said: “We thank God for the result, a goalless draw is ideal for us. We have respect for Rayon Sports, they are a good team but we set out to contain them.”
Rivers United now join the likes of TP Mazembe (holders), CS Sfaxien, Zesco United, FUS Rabat, Smouha, Recreativo Libolo, MC Alger, CF Mounana, Horoya, Platinum Stars, SuperSport United, Al-Hilal Al-Ubayyid, Mbabane Swallows, Club African and Kampala City Council Authority in the last 16.
The group stage draw will be held at CAF headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday.