New date, neutral venue for Rivers United, Bloemfontein Celtic Caf match

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Caf has rescheduled the Confederation Cup first round, second leg fixture between Rivers United and Bloemfontein Celtic to the weekend of January 22-24.

After initially set to be played on January 6 in Port Harcourt, the match will now be staged at a neutral venue to be decided by the Nigerian Football Federation.

The game did not take place on the original date due to the Nigerian government’s demands for travellers from South Africa and the United Kingdom to isolate for seven days after arrival. This is a regulation to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Celtic could not meet that requirement due to domestic commitments and a request for the granting of a special exemption to the South Africans was turned down by Nigerian authorities, but Caf has now allowed for the match to be rearranged.

“The Nigeria Football Federation will decide and communicate the venue, date, kick-off time and the approval of the neutral host association by the 12th of January, at the latest,” said Caf as per Sun Sport.

“The designation of the match officials are maintained. Rivers United will take charge of all organisational expenses in the neutral country as the host club and to ensure that the visiting team has the approval for entry in the neutral country.”

Rivers would be keen to defend their lead from the first leg after beating Celtic 2-0 on December 23, 2020.

Siwelele chief executive officer Khumbulani Konco says they have accepted Caf’s move to have the match rescheduled and played at a neutral venue.

He is also not concerned about trailing Rivers in the game, saying it is achievable to overturn the 2-0 deficit.

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“It's all fine with us. About the result, anything is still possible and we can recover,” Konco said.

Celtic go into this match on the backdrop of an inconsistent run in the Premier Soccer League where they have not recorded a victory in their last three games.

Their opponents Rivers have started their Nigerian Professional League season on fire with a 100 percent record, winning all their three games including edging Enugu Rangers 1-0 in their campaign opener.