Last year, Lobi Stars won the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) for the first time since 1999 and qualified for the 2019 Confederation of Africa (CAF) Champions League. A few days ago, they played their opening match against the Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa.
In the preliminary round, the Ortom boys took on Gor Mahia from Kenya. They lost the first match 3:1 away, but won 2:0 at home, making it through to the group stage on the away goals rule. Lobi Stars were drawn in Group A with ASEC Mimosas from the Ivory Coast, Wydad AC Casablanca from Morocco and their opponents in the opening match, Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa.
The venue for this match was the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu. The following players were in the starting line-up for the home side: Olufemi Kayode in goal; John Lazarus, Monsuru Olawale Bashiru, Ekene Nero Olisema and Chidiebube Gideon Duru in defence; Otakho Alex Aghahowa just in front of them as a holding midfielder; Yaya Kone, Mathias Samuel Martins, Moses Ojo and Austine Ogunye in the middle with Sunday Adetunji as a sole attacker.
In an eventful first half, it was the visitors who scored first. Anthony Laffor was the scorer for the Sundowns in the 38th minute. But Lobi Stars were quick to counter and managed to level the score just before the break after Yaya Kone had converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute.
The Nigerian team had more shots on goal, but they were mostly off the target. The main battle was fought in the midfield. Seven minutes after the restart Lobi stars took the lead. Mathias Samuel Martins was the scorer in the 52nd minute. The match finished 2:1 giving the Stars their first win in this year’s CAF Champions League.
In the other match of the group, Wydad AC thrashed the ASEC Mimosas 5:2 at the Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah in Rabat, Morocco. Because of the better goal difference, they are leading the group after Matchday 1.
Matchday 2 is scheduled for the weekend starting 18th January and the Nigerians will be travelling to Ivory Coast to face the ASEC Mimosas while Mamelodi Sundowns will host Wydad AC Casablanca in the other group match-up.
After coming back from a goal down and winning their opening match, the Lobi Stars will be confident for their second CAD Champions League match and progressing further in the competition.