Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma says CAF Confederation Cup first round opponents Bloemfontein Celtic are a ‘good team’, but believes the South Africans have a vulnerability his players can exploit over two legs to progress to the next round.
The Pride of Rivers face Celtic next Wednesday in Bloemfontein before the second leg in Port Harcourt on 6 January – with the aggregate winners advancing to the playoff round of the competition.
Eguma, who alongside his technical crew and players watched 10-man Bloemfontein Celtic lose 2-1 to Orlando Pirates in the MTN8 final at the weekend, said he won’t plan for his side’s clash against the South Africans solely based on what he saw on Saturday, but noted that John Maduka’s wards are ‘vulnerable’.
“They (Celtic) are a good team, they are a good side,” Eguma acknowledged. “Despite the fact that they lost that game, they were not bad, they played well.
“Even when they were one man down; when they had a red card, they still played and had more possession than the Orlando Pirates team.
“They are a team that play compactly. They keep the ball on the ground and play. And they also attack through the wings from the left side.
“But we know that we would not plan against all that we saw that very day because there may be one or two players who did not feature that very day. You know the technical crew knows quite well that we may have watched them, they might try to be tactical by hiding some things.
“From what we saw, they are also vulnerable.”
Given the needed support from the sponsors and management of the team, the former Enyimba assistant coach, however, expressed confidence Rivers United will advance to the next round at the expense of Celtic provided the players remain focused and give their ‘best’.
“We have a very good chance (of advancing to the next round). It’s just that the players must be in the right frame of mind. They have to be focused,” he noted.
“(With) the team working round the clock, the management, the sponsors solidly behind the team, and I believe that if all of us put our acts together and make sure that we arrive (South Africa) on time when there will be enough rest for the team, I think that we will do well.
“If all the other logistic issues are taken care of, we won’t have any problem. The players will give their best because they also watched the game and they are eager to go.
“They know the importance of this competition – the importance of victory in this game because as it stands now, Nigeria teams have suffered a lot in this competition.
“So, we have to give our best and nothing short of our best is what is expected by Nigerians now. So, we are ready and nothing is stopping us again.”
No Nigerian team has won the CAF Confederation Cup since its inception in 2004, with Rivers United (then Dolphins) reaching the final in 2005, where they lost to FAR Rabat of Morocco 3-1 on aggregate.
Both Rivers United and Bloemfontein Celtic needed penalties to see off their opponents in the previous round with United defeating Futuro Kings while Celtic triumphed over Maniema Union.