Reigning NigerianLeague champions Lobi Stars have dented their hope of making it to the quarter-final stage of the Caf Champions League after they were beaten 1-0 by Wydad Casablancaat the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on Sunday.
Mohamed Nahiri scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 20th minute to send the Moroccans back to the top of Group A on goals difference ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns who occupied the position 24 hours earlier after their 3-1 home win over ASEC Mimosas.
The tie was fixed for Friday but it had to be shifted by 24 hours after a political rally slated for the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium-the venue of the fixture on the same day made the Confederation of African Football (CAF) accept that the game should be moved by a day.
The Pride of Benue had lost one and won the other in the two games they have played before the visit of the north Africans on Saturday and with Mamelodi Sundowns securing a comfortable 3-1 home win the previous day against ASEC Mimosas, the Nigerian champions were in dire need of a home win to bolster their chances of progressing to the next round.
It was the hosts that started on the wrong footing after Mama Bah-Yere committed a schoolboy error in the 18-yard box in the 19th minute when he wrestled a Wydad player to the ground and Nahiri stepped forward to put the Moroccans ahead a minute later after he sent goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode the wrong way.
Lobi Stars did all they could to get the equaliser but they were met by the resolute defending of the visitors who were marshaled by Abdelatif Noussir, Achraf Dari, Yahya Jabrane and Nahiri.
It was also in similar fashion in the second half as Lobi Stars threw men forward in search of the elusive away goal and when the heat was turning on Wydad as if there was going to be a leveler, Wydad got another opportunity to increase the tally from the spot when the centre referee spotted an infringement in the vital area in the final 10 minutes of the encounter but the away side lost the penalty kick.
The Nigerians will hope for a turnaround when they visit Rabat’s Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium for the return leg tie on February 12. They are currently third in Group A with three points from three games behind Wydad and Mamelodi Sundowns who have six points each after the same number of games.