Today is Sunday so many Cathedrals will be full throughout the country, but there is one, in particular, that will be bursting at the seams. That one is located in Enugu. It is the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, home to the Enugu Rangers, but affectionately called the Cathedral by the Flying Antelopes fans.
At 4.pm today the Rangers will be locking horns with Union Sportive Medinat Bel Abbès of Algeria (above) in the second leg of their Caf Confederation Cup tie. The Nigerians go into the game with a clear advantage. Not only will they have the backing of circa 22,000 fans, but having drawn with USMB at the February 24, 1956 Stadium last week in Sidi Bel Abbès, they the know that just one goal will see them through to the next round.
But the same also holds true for the North Africans. In fact, every goal they score must be answered by two from the Coal City boys so each team must be coy and play carefully even when they attack.
The Algerian 35-man delegation arrived at 6.00 am in Enugu on Friday wearing their game faces and are seeking to play spoiler and ruin any party Enugu has planned.
As we know, the celebrations started yesterday when Lobi Stars beat Gor Mahia 2:0 in the Caf Champion League at the same venue.
In fact, both Nigerians teams, in a show of sportsmanship, have supported each other's efforts. First, the Rangers sent their well-wishes to the Nigerian champion, and then Lobi replied.
But all of that is inconsequential to USMB. They are a gritty team that is far from folding and coach Gbenga Ogunbote knows this and has done his best to keep his team confident but not over-confident. He knows he will be in for a battle and so do midfielder Solomon Okpako and defender, Semiu Liadi who both agreed with Ogunbote that the team must keep their foot on the gas pedal. Okpako especially praised the quality of USM Bel Abbes. He also noted that his team squandered a late chance that would have won them the game.