Lobi Stars of Makurdi started their CAF Champions League campaign on a winning note, coming from a goal down to defeat Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.
Anthony Laffor shoot Sundowns ahead in the 38th, while Yaya Kone levels up through the spot going into the break.
Seven minutes after the restart, Samuel Mathias scored what would become the winning goal to place Lobi Stars atop while awaiting the result of other fixture in their group.
Incidentally, before Friday’s Group A showdown at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, the self-styled Brazilians have won all but one of their four previous CAF Champions League confrontations against Nigerian sides including victories over two legs recorded against Enyimba en route to being crowned the continental champions in 2016.
The West African side have so far enjoyed support from fans and government officials which is expected to boost their aspiration of going beyond the group stage of the CAF Champions League.
Before now, Lobi’s sole appearance in the CAF Champions League is in the year 2000. That time, they didn’t make it beyond the group stage.
The two-time Nigerian champions had to overcome Gor Mahia of Kenya in the qualifiers to proceed the group stage of the 2019 edition of the competition.
Lobi’s Group A opponents are past winners of the CAF Champions League: Wydad Casablanca (1992 and 2017), Mamelodi Sundowns (2016) and ASEC Mimosas (1998).
Enyimba remains the only Nigerian side to have won Africa’s premier club competition. The Aba-based side did it back-to-back, in 2003 and 2004.
Enyimba’s achievement then looked to have opened the door for Nigeria’s dominance of Africa’s flagship competition for clubs. However, 14 years down the line, it has proved to be a false dawn.
With a Lobi side lacking Champions League experience the only Nigerian representative, another continental glory could well elude Africa’s most populous nation.
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