It was all grimaces, as Pillar of Sports, Orji Uzor Kalu, got the news of Enugu Rangers ouster from the elite CAF Champions League last Sunday. The Flying Antelopes crashed out 5-3 aggregate despite beating Zamalek of Egypt 2-1 in Enugu at the Weekend.
Kalu said: “This is a terrible result. I thought Rangers would fight like wounded Lions inspite of the 4-1 first leg deficit. Scoring three goals at home was not out of this world. They did it against another Egyptian side, Mehalla in 1975. The same happened to Zambia’s Green Buffaloes in 1976.”
The former Abia State governor was sure the Coal City Boys would stop the North Africans, especially after Rivers United crumbled in Sudan, leaving Nigeria with only a team in the competition.
“Rangers had also beaten North African teams silly at home in the past. In 1982, they bullied Algeria’s RS Kouba 5-0. Al Hilal of Sudan fell 4-0 in 2006 while in the 2003 CAF Cup, the Flying Antelopes gave Al Ahli, Egypt a 4-0 drubbing. The same result was achieved in the 2004 CAF Confederations Cup when they hit Al Masri and Al Hilal 4-0 respectively. So I had no fear about beating Zamalek,” Kalu added.
He urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to play a more active role in the country’s preparation for continental competitions especially now that Amaju Pinnick has won a place in the CAF Executive Committee.
According to Kalu: “There is more to continental football than meets the eye. It is beyond party politics. I have been involved so I am talking from experience which you cannot buy from the State ministry of Sports. That was why Enyimba won the CAF Champions League back to back in 2003 and 2004.
“l believe so much in Rangers. In football nothing is impossible. Barcelona did it recently in Europe. Hafia did it against ASEC Mimosas in 1976.
Rangers had once scored six goals at home, in the 1996 CAF Cup against Etoile Filante of Togo. It is painful they could not score four goals against Zamalek.”