Nigeria striker Kelechi Osunwa said Rivers United failed to qualify for the group stage of the CAF Champions League because they did not show Al Merreikh enough respect and they were intimidated by the sell-out crowd at the game.
On Saturday night, Sudanese giants Al Merreikh overturned 3-0 loss they suffered in Port Harcourt a week ago by winning the return game at home 4-0 to qualify for the next round of the Champions League 4-3 on aggregate.
Al Merreikh will now feature in the money-spinning group phase of the annual tournament, while the Nigerian club will playoff for a place in the second-tier Confederation Cup.
“Rivers United were more relaxed, just too relaxed, knowing full well that they had three goals in the bag. As a result, they didn’t show us any respect and that was why they lost this game,” Port Harcourt-born Osunwa told SCORENigeria
“It was a great game, something like a miracle.
“I also think Rivers United were intimidated by the fans, the entire stadium was packed and the fans were yelling and pushing us and so in the first half we were able to score three goals.
“That demoralised them and when we came into the second half, we kept pushing until we made it 4-0.
“It was an awesome game. We deserved the victory because we worked really hard.”
Osunwa further revealed the Sudanese champions have been suffering from fatigue caused by a crowded schedule and that was why they fell 3-0 in the first leg in Nigeria.
“The fact is that we have been playing with a lot of fatigue as we are involved in four competitions – Champions League, the Arab Champions League, the league and FA Cup,” he explained.
“That was what affected us in Port Harcourt.”
By Emeka Dennar