After winning the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) last year, Lobi Stars qualified to play in the Confederation of African Football Champions League (CAFCL) this season. The draw landed them in Group A where they would compete against Wydad AC Casablanca from Morocco, Mamelodi Sundowns out of South Africa and the ASEC Mimosas from the Ivory Coast.
Lobi Stars CAFCL campaign got off to a flying start. They defeated the Mamelodi Sundowns 2:1 at home in their opening group match. But that’s when they started a bad run of results. On Matchday 2 they lost 1:0 to the ASEC Mimosas before they lost again to Wydad AC Casablanca at home on Matchday three.
In the return leg, they held the team from Morocco to a goalless draw before heading over to the Ivory Coast to play ASEC again. They lost the match 2:0. On Matchday 5 they travelled to South Africa where they suffered their third defeat and lost any chance of reaching the next stage of the competition.
For the final match of the group stage, they hosted the ASEC Mimosas at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu. The Nigerian team was already before the game even started but the Mimosas had a theoretical chance of going through.
The game was tight with both teams playing hard but two goals from Alimi Sikiru decided the match in favour of the Lobi Stars. The goals came in the 2nd and in the 39th minute. With these two, Sikiru has scored five goals for the Stars in this year’s competition.
Lobi Stars finish last in Group A with two wins, three losses and a draw. ASEC Mimosas finished third in the table. Wydad AC Casablanca and Mamelodi are through to the semi-finals scheduled to be played on April 26th and May 3rd.
One of the coaching staff mentioned after the game that they were still proud of the team and what they accomplished. They added that this campaign in the CAFCL will give them the experience needed to do better next time. One regret they have is that they couldn’t be more clinical in front of goal which would have given them a better chance to progress.
Lobi Stars can now concentrate on playing the backlog of matches they missed in the NPFL. Their next opponents are the Niger Tornadoes who they will play away on Sunday, March 17th, and a week later, on March 24th at home.