By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Nigeria internationals, Chisom Chikatara and Kingsley Sokari, have expressed sadness at the elimination of Nigerian teams in the CAF Champions League Round of 32 stages,Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Enugu Rangers on Sunday defeated five-time champions Zamalek 2-1 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, but it proved too little as they were eliminated 5-3 on aggregate following the 4-1 first leg result against them in Cairo.
Rivers United gave up a 3-0 first leg win in Port Harcourt and were beaten 4-0 by Al-Merrikh in Omdurman on Saturday.
Chikatara and Sokari who play for north African clubs, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, and Tunisia's CS Sfaxien respectively spoke exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com from their bases.
"My commiserations to Rangers and Rivers United. I guess people back home are not happy because no Nigerian team will play in the group stages," former Abia Warriors star Chikatara toldCompletesportsnigeria.com.
"For me the lesson there will be to prepare better next time by doing very good recruitment and traveling early for acclimatization.
"Some people have suggested that the Nigeria Football Federation should see clubs playing in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup as extensions of the national team and support them in whatever way they can.
"But then is it really possible that clubs playing in the continent can secure the best players in the league. I'm not sure but you never know," the star of the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) stated.
Chikatara has not played competitive football for three months due to injury, but his club was involved in their own CAF Champions League commitment on the weekend, defeating Gabonese side, Mounana 5-4 on penalties after both sides were level 1-1 on aggregate over two legs.
On his part, CS Sfaxien of Tunisia attacking midfielder, Kingsley Sokari who was key in securing a group stage berth for CS Sfaxien at the expense of Cameroon club Young Sport Academy also spared some thoughts for his home country's clubs.
"That's football for you. You cannot predict football these days and besides the teams (Enugu Rangers and Rivers United) played against very good sides.
"I hope the two teams achieve better results in the playoffs for the Confederation Cup. I wish them well," Sokari, a former youth international added.
Sokari was in action in his team's two matches – the 5-0 hiding of their opponents in the first leg and in the 1-1 draw on Saturday.
"I played for 85 minutes in Cameroon. It was a really tough game because it was so hot and on a synthetic pitch," Sokari disclosed.