Akwa United’s hopes of reaching the confederation Cup group stage came to an end despite beating Sudanese side Al Hilal 3-1 in Wednesday’s playoff game at the Nest of Champions.
The visitors went into the match holding a comfortable first-leg advantage following a 2-0 win in Omdurman last week, meaning Akwa needed three unreplied goals to progress.
Maikaba’s side produced one of their best performances of the season. Also, Michael Ibe arguably played his best game in Orange and White, capping it with a hat-trick.
Despite seeing more of the ball in the early stages, it was the visitors who went in front, no thanks to Olorunleke Ojo’s howler. The goalkeeper failed to properly deal with a long range effort, spilling the ball. Captain Ahmed Basheer latched on to the rebound before slotting home from close range. But just before halftime, Ibe put the Promise Keepers level, finding the bottom corner of the far post off Matthew Etim’s cornerkick.
In the second half, Ibe added a brace. His first came from close range after being put through on goal by substitute Katoh Haggai. The former Ikorodu United attacker completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Aniekeme Asuquo was brought down.
With the team needing a fourth goal to advance, the Uyo side attacked with greater intensity and purpose. That produced a glorious chance — a one-on-one situation, which Gabriel Okechukwu failed to make the most of. The Nigeria international could only hit the Al Hilal goalkeeper’s body after being sent clear — and with scores standing at 3-1 after eight minutes of stoppage time, the Omdurman side moved to the lucrative stage of the on away goals rule.
In Calabar, Enyimba played out a goalless draw with South African club Bidvest Wits but, having drawn the first leg 1-1, progressed through the away goals rule.
The Aba club wasted a stoppage-time penalty. Ifeanyi Anaemena could only hit the side-netting after Kola Oladapo’s initial penalty was saved.
MFM FC, like Akwa, exited the tournament. The Lagos Boys drew goalless at Malian club Djoliba, but the result was not enough, as they had lost the first leg 1-0 in Agege.
On Tuesday, Plateau United were eliminated 2-5 on aggregate by USM Alger, with the Algerians humiliating the Jos club 4-0 in Algiers.