Nigeria’s only remaining team in the continental club football, Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, Saturday afternoon crashed out of the CAF Champions League after they lost 3-1 at Recreativo Libolo of Angola.
The first leg in Nigeria ended in a goalless draw a fortnight ago.
The lone goal from late entrant Sunday Mba could not save the day for Rangers.
Despite arriving the match venue in Angola few hours to kick off, the Super Eagles 2013 Nations Cup hero showed why two top clubs in Nigeria are in stiff battle to secure his services.
Mba who played the game with the intention of helping Rangers scale through to the lucrative and money spinning group stage of the Champions League showed class as he scored a goal for the Nigerian side.
Rangers goal scorer and AFCON hero Sunday Mba said, “I am very happy with my performance against Recreativo and God crowned my effort with a great goal. But, what is the value of the goal since it could not help my team pick the group stage ticket.
“I thank God for helping me with a great performance today after a long time out of action.”
After the match, it was celebration galore for the Angolan team as their supporters danced round the stadium.
The Recreativi do Libolo president confessed that Rangers gave his team a very big scare with their attacking football. “We deserved to win and we played to win despite the fact that Rangers gave us a great scare. They are the toughest side we have played in the last four years.
“We don’t fear any team on the continent as the draws for the group stage is done. We only respect teams and Al Ahly of Egypt commends our greatest respect.”
Rangers coach Okey Emordi, said in a post match interview that: “We lost this game to some questionable calls from the referee. Yes, we did not start the game well but when we were on the ascendancy he tactfully cut all our moves and gave that very dubious penalty that killed off the fighting spirit in my players.
“All the same, I am happy with the performance of my team as we now go back to prepare well for the Confederation Cup group stage qualifying match.”
It took a well-taken free kick from 25 yards by Henry Camara on 17 minutes for the hosts to take the lead.
They extended their lead on 33 minutes when some slack defending from Rangers gave Dario too much space to find the back of the net.
The match remained this way till the end of the first stanza and on resumption of the second half, Rangers upped their game and it was no surprise when they reduced the deficit on 57 minutes as AFCON hero Sunday Mba, who finally flew into Angola just hours to kick-off, fired in a 25-yard left-footed shot past Landu in goal for the host.
However, any hope of a complete comeback for the Nigerians was extinguished as Dario steeled his nerves to slot home from the penalty spot on 72 minutes for his second of the evening after Chibuzor Madu was adjudged to have fouled goal-bound Vado.