19th May, 2013
Ugonna Uzochukwu scored the match winner and then saw red as Enugu Rangers pipped CS Sfaxien 1-0 in a CAF Confederation Cup match on Sunday.
Defender Uzochukwu grabbed the winner three minutes from full time after Tunisian club Sfaxien held their own inside the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.
However, Uzochukwu was given a red card minutes later after he picked up his second booking of the day and this means he has been ruled out of the all-important return leg match in Tunisia.
Rangers were without internationals Sunday Mba and Chigozie Agbim, who are away with the Super Eagles in Germany, while first-choice goalkeeper, Godwin Ayalogu, was not fit enough. This forced the coach, Okey Emordi to settle for third choice goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel, who is also the U-20 Flying Eagles’ goal poacher.
Sfaxien attacked from the onset and it needed goalkeeper Daniel to scramble into a corner to safe a goal-bound shot by the Tunisians after just eight minutes.
Razaq Adegbite replaced injured striker Sanusi Sani after 28 minutes as Rangers fought in search of a go-ahead goal.
On the hour, Nigeria U-20 striker, Alhaji Gero, had a chance to put the home in front but he missed a great opening off a corner.
MTNFootball.com reports that just when it looked like Rangers would be cancelled out by Sfaxien, Uzochukwu produced the winner late on, but he was booked for celebrating by pulling off his shirt. He was then sent off moments later for a second booking.
Sfaxien, three-time finalists and the only club to successfully defend the Confederation Cup, host the second leg at the beginning of June.
No Egyptian club has won the nine-year Confederation Cup and the hopes of Ismaily or ENPPI creating history suffered serious blows.
Ismaily conceded a late goal to crash 3-0 at CA Bizertin of Tunisia while an early brace condemned ENPPI to a 2-0 defeat at Saint George of Ethiopia.
Bizertin, beaten by Egyptian giants Al-Ahly in the Champions League before dropping to the Confederation Cup, exacted sweet revenge.
A goal in each half, from Kamel Zaiem and Ali Machani, put them on top and a last-minute strike by Al-Arabi Gabir left Ismaily with little hope.
Shimeles Bekele and Abebaw Butako scored in Addis Ababa for the Saints, who hope to be the first Ethiopian team to reach the group stage.
Like Bizerte, Saint George were eliminated from the Champions League by an Egyptian side, losing to Zamalek on the away-goal rule.
Big spenders TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo whipped surprise qualifiers LIga Muculmana 4-0 in mining hub Lubumbashi.
But no scorer was Congolese with Zambians Given Singuluma and Nathan Sinkala, Ghanaian Richard Kissi-Boateng and Tanzanian Mbwana Samata on target.
Return matches are scheduled for the weekend of May 31-June 2 and the eight surivivors qualify for the group stage, which kicks off in mid-July.