CAFWCL: A tournament to forget for Rivers Angels

The Nigerian champions were handed a shock exit from a competition they were expected to dominate in its early years

Rivers Angels.

After many years of advocacy, CAF finally introduced the CAF Women's Champions League, and that excited many followers of women's football in Nigeria and Africa. Rivers Angels, one of Nigeria's most successful women's football clubs, qualified for the tournament.

Because of their dominance in Nigeria, the hope of many Nigerians was that Rivers Angels would extend that dominance to the African scene, at least for the first 3 years of the inception of the tournament.

In a rather sad twist, the "Jewel of Rivers" crashed out of the tournament on Friday, even though they beat Vihiga Queens of Kenya 4-0. The result of the other game did not favor them.

The beginning of their failure was arriving in Egypt just a day before their game against ASFAR FC of Morocco. They received their shock of the tournament, losing 3-0 to the Moroccans. In the minds of many, it would probably have been Moroccans clinging to hope of defeating the Nigerian giants. Rivers Angels' dream took a dramatic plunge after that game.

With two games remaining, the team were expected to rise like the legendary phoenix, but they were subdued by an unspectacular Mamelodi Sundowns side, losing to a controversial goal line decision. Following the big win against Vihiga Queens, that decision will have only hurt more for Rivers Angels.

No matter how disappointing the tournament was for them, they bowed out with their heads held high. Coach Edwin Okon made changes to the XI that lost against Mamelodi Sundowns, and the team totally dominated the game in all areas, scoring four times.

Although they scored four goals against Vihiga Queens, the chances they missed showed why they bowed out at an early stage. A team with such attacking talent should have been in the final. The team has five Super Falcons players and the quality in the team is not in doubt, so if anyone had expected them to win the tournament, the expectation was not unjustified.

Oghenebrume Ikekhua, Precious Christopher, Monday Gift, Rafiat Imuran, Vivian Ikechukwu, Damilola Koku, Abiodun Deborah, Maryann Ezenagu and others in the team are some of the finest young players in Nigeria. A team with such attacking talent should be able to get goals, especially with the expertise of veteran midfielder Cecelia Nku, whose experience helped to subdue the Vihiga Queens midfield.

Though they are out of the tournament, the team can go back and prepare for the next tournament, and that involves winning the NWFL in 2022. Hopefully, they have enough competitive games before the next tournament, as a lack of quality matches affected their performances. Though this tournament is one to forget for Rivers Angels, they can rise and make a strong come back next season.

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Bethel Kalu is a passionate sports writer whose love for writing began as a young boy. He has been writing sports for 7 years has over 500 articles written by him.

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