CAF CC: Shaibu, Ilaboya, others hail gallant Bendel Insurance FC after 1-0 loss to RS Berkane
… Benin Arsenals shift attention to NPFL
The deputy Governor of Edo state Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu, Hon Frank Ilaboya, Executive Director, of Edo State Sports Commission and some other sports stakeholders in Edo state have heaped praise on Nigeria’s FA Cup champions Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin over their bravery and impressive performance against RS Berkane despite their 1-0 loss to the Moroccans in the second preliminary round of the 2023/24 CAF Confederation Cup return leg clash on Friday night.
The sports-loving Deputy Governor who called in from Benin to support the team immediately after the match, said that he was impressed by the performance of the Benin Arsenals despite bowing out of the CAF competition, saying that he is confident that Insurance is capable of surpassing this year’s achievements next season.
“We should raise our heads high. You guys played very well. We were only unlucky to score. I know that losing is painful but let’s be gallant in defeat. We lost to 2021 champions and not to a small team. We just returned from relegation and got a continental ticket the same season and we were able to beat ASO Chlef before losing narrowly to former champions is not a very bad outing for us. We are proud of you. Come home and let’s prepare for the domestic league which is kicking off this weekend and let us begin work towards a better continental outing next year.” Comrade Shaibu said.
Also, in a message to the team, Hon Frank Ilaboya said that the Benin Arsenals put up an impressive performance beyond his expectations, adding that the team needs more encouragement.
“We all needed to applaud Insurance for a gritty performance last night, the team played well. The future is bright. Wish you all a safe trip back home”. Ilaboya said
Also speaking, Charles Aimufua and some other members of the Insurance fan and ex-players group hailed their darling team for their bravery.
“For me, the club has made me proud, knowing where we are coming from. We can do better, let the Ogbonge league start and then we go again. Kudos to the Coach and his crew, as well as the players who have given their all in their strength and mentality. The entire crew of the media, the team management and finally my beloved fans’ family. What binds us together should keep us together. Adaaa Bendel!
In the crucial match played at the 10,000-capacity Berkane Municipal Stadium, Oussama Lamlioui scored the only goal of the match in the 43rd minute of play to help RS Berkane progress to the Group phase of the 2023/2024 TotalEnergy CAF Confederation Cup on a 3-2 aggregate victory.
The Benin Arsenal were forced to a 2-2 draw by the Moroccans in the first-leg encounter in Benin City on September 16. RS Berkane in that match came twice from behind to cancel Imade Osarenkhoe and Vincent Augustus’ goals to force a stalemate.
Bendel Insurance who gained promotion to Nigeria’s Premier League last year after many years, almost finished a whole season without a defeat until their last two matches.
Bendel Insurance had a good run in the season by winning the Nigeria FA Cup, after finishing in the 5th position in the league to secure the ticket to the continental competition and got to the second round after beating ASO Chlef of Algeria in the first preliminary round while the Orange Boys, on the other hand, finished 4th in the Moroccan league but defeated Wydad Casablanca to win their FA cup to qualify for the Confederations Cup and have remained unbeaten at home in 10 matches.
In a post-match interview, the head coach and Technical Director of Insurance FC Monday Odigie said that his team lost to a very good side and former champions. He admitted that one needs to be at his best to beat a disciplined team as RS Berkane.
“We were not at our best. They got that chance and scored. We got many chances, if we had converted our chances it would have been a different result. RS Berkane has a long history just as Insurance also has a good history but Insurance has not been at this level for a long time. We are back now and will continue to build a formidable team capable of winning the CAF Champions League..”
Meanwhile, Bendel Insurance will be directing their energy and focus to the Nigeria Premier Football League as they are returning to base to prepare for their match against Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium next week.
The country’s premier football league management body had taken the burden of playing their first game against Enyimba FC in Aba this weekend off the Benin Arsenals because of their trip to Morocco for the continental engagement with RS Berkane.