Godwin Aguda scored twice as Rivers United secured a 3-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic in Saturday’s Caf Confederation Cup first-round, second leg encounter.
The game initially scheduled for January 6 at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt was called off by the Confederation of African Football following the South Africans’ failure to get a waiver to fly into Nigeria from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Nevertheless, the game was taken to the Charles De Gaulles Stadium in Port Novo, Benin Republic by Africa’s football ruling body.
Despite needing an outright win to fancy their chances to qualify after a chastening 2-0 home defeat in the first leg staged at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium, Siwelele went down in the first minute through Aguda who beat goalkeeper Sipho Chaine.
That goal was a reality check for the visitors, nonetheless, they laboured hard trying to level matters against their in-form hosts.
The Pride of Rivers doubled their advantage in the closing stages of the first-half with Aguda finding the net for the second time, as both teams went into the tunnel leaving Celtic to score at least five goals in the last 45 minutes to keep their Confederation Cup hopes alive.
Four minutes into the second half, Stanley Eguma’s side raced to a three-goal lead through Fortune Omoniwari.
Not willing to crash out without a fight, the Free State side came out forcefully, but they were unable to get past the Nigerians who put up solid defending.
With this result, Rivers United are through to the play-off round after a 5-0 aggregate win. There, they will challenge two-time African champions Enyimba to reach the group stage.
Fatai Osho’s People’s Elephant got demoted to the second-tier of the African club football tournament following their 4-2 defeat on aggregate to Sudanese giants Al Merreikh in the Caf Champions League first round.
The first leg of the play-off round will be held at the Enyimba Stadium, Aba on February 14, 2020 with the return leg taking place seven days later.
For John Maduka’s team who are winless in their last eight matches across all competitions, they would be hoping to shake off their unpleasant memories when they host Chippa United in Wednesday’s South African elite division clash.