Technical manager of Rivers United FC, Stanley Eguma believes his side can tear the form books to shreds and emerge champions of the 2017 CAF Champions League.
Debutants, United were heavy underdogs in their preliminary round tie against Malian side, AS Real Bamako who were making their seventh appearance in the competition but pulled the chestnut out of the fire with a convincing win.
The Pride of Rivers ran away 4-0 winners on aggregate and now face the potentially extremely difficult task of stopping Sudanese club, Al-Merrikh, a side making its 19th appearance in Africa’s premiere club competition, from reaching the group stage.
Eguma is calm and tranquil about the task at hand but predicts that says his charges cannot only just topple the 16-time Sudanese champions but also go all the way in the competition this year.
“The Champions League is a very big stage and we know that tougher opponents lie in wait.
“Our ambition is to win the competition and that is (also) the ambition of the sponsors for the football club (the Rivers State Government).
“We have crossed the first hurdle and we know there are more hurdles for us to cross in future.
“This is the time for extreme hard work and mapping out of strategies.
“The players have to lift their game too because the farther we progress the more difficult it is expected to be.
“Al-Merriekh will be more difficult than AS Real Bamako and we are ready to work to get the win,” he told the club’s official website, http://www.riversunitedfc.com.
Eguma’s side had struggled for goals in previous matches before eventually coming good with four strikes against Real on Sunday.
The experienced gaffer said he was always confident the goals would come.
“Scoring goals had always been our problem. The boys had been jittery mainly because most of them were playing in Port Harcourt for the first time and it was difficult for them to contain the pressure.
“Scoring four times against AS Real Bamako will give them a lot of confidence going forward.
“I am sure that with time, scoring goals will be a thing of the past for us,” he said.
Rivers United will now return to Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) duty on Wednesday when they face former champions, Kano Pillars in Port Harcourt in a rescheduled game.