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Niger Tornadoes never expected to qualify for Caf - Ogbonnaya

12:32 AM SGT 18/7/19
Niger Tornadoes
The veteran defender reveals to Goal how the Ikon Allah Boys surprised even themselves; qualifying to play on the continent against all odds

Niger Tornadoes defender Reuben Ogbonnaya has given more insight into his team’s surprise qualification for the Caf Confederation Cup.

Tornadoes, who were relegated from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) last season booked a place in next season's Caf Confederation Cup by virtue of their qualification for the Federation Cup final.

Kano Pillars, who they face in the final, have already picked a Caf Champions League ticket after they finished second at the end of the NPFL Championship play-offs.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, Ogbonnaya admitted neither the players nor the management of Niger Tornadoes ever imagined the Ikon Allah Boys will get a chance to represent Nigeria in the second-tier Africa club competition. 

“Never, never at all, no one saw it coming, let me tell you this, it was after the game against Gombe United in the Roud of 16 in Lafia that we started having some sort of belief that we might just qualify for continental football,” Ogbonnaya, the vice-captain for Tornadoes told Goal. 

“After the league finished and we were relegated, we just said, let us play what we can in the Aiteo Cup, I think it was just two or three of the management staff that was following us to the earlier games we played. 

“After the Round of 16 victory the belief started coming and the support started coming in too, that was when everybody believed that anything can still happen.

“Against Rivers United many thought it was the end of the road for us but after we crossed that bridge, [then] come and see the celebration across Minna, we didn’t see it coming.”

With qualification now sorted, the Tornadoes vice-captain is hopeful they would be worthy ambassadors of Nigeria on the continent.

“We will definitely do our best and not disgrace Nigeria” the Tornadoes defender added.