The preliminary round exit of Akwa United and the not-exciting display of Rivers United in the 021/2021 season of Confederation of Africa Football Champions League ( CAFCL) is glaring evidence of the huge gulf between Nigeria clubs and the best in Africa.
The struggles of Nigerian clubs in the CAF Champions League have been in existence from time immemorial.
Traditional Nigerian club sides like the Rangers of Enugu of the good old and Shooting Stars of Ibadan failed to win the Sekou Toure Champions cup before it transforms its name to CAF Champions League in the nineties.
Their struggles against the Maghreb sides are well documented until Enyimba FC broke the jinx in 2003 and 2004 defeating Ismaily of Egypt and Etoile du Sahel in the finals respectively.
The Enyimba success is beginning to look like an isolated case as Nigerian teams performance on the continent has been declining over the years.
The narrative is no longer asking for when Nigeria teams will conquer the continent again.
The benchmark of acceptable minimum success is now to qualify for the money-spinning group stage of the competition as no team from Nigeria has qualified for the players in the group stages in the last two seasons.
The near exit case of Rivers United in the second preliminary round is not giving any hope either that the narrative will change this year.
Rivers United forced Al-Hilal Omdurman to a 1-1 at Adokie Amasiemaka stadium on 11 October 2021, the return leg will come up on Sunday 24 October 2021 in Omdurman, Sudan.
They have a very slim chance of turning the table in Khartoum, slimmer than a camel passing through an eye of a needle for them to qualify for this year’s group stage.
The series of struggles experienced by Nigerian clubs on the continent according to Felix Anyansi, the Enyimba FC club Chairman, is due to the huge investment difference between Nigerian teams and the best teams on the continent.
The highly experienced administrator who was in charge when Enyimba won the trophy back to back seventeen years ago, said the huge difference in investment in players, facilities and general funding is responsible for the yearly struggles that Nigerian clubs witness on the continental stage.
“You talk about investment, you talk about a team that can buy a player for $1m (N460, 000, 000), you talk about a team that can pay a player $30,000, $50,000. These are the people Nigerian teams are competing with” Anansi told Busybuudy
Anyasi added: “Most clubs (in Nigeria) are under-funded and our people keep assuming that Superman (mentality).”
“Government are trying, we can’t say, the economy is difficult. There are a lot of African countries that have woken up. The investments are huge.”
Until this gulf is bridged, Nigeria clubs will continue to struggle.
The club administrators need to do more and embrace a business model that can generate the needed fund for the team to compete with the best in Africa in terms of quality recruitment, players welfare, training facilities and other logistics if they want a change in fortune.
Olusola Adebayo is a highly-skilled, enthusiastic, self-motivated writer with over 10 successful years of experience.
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