Highly-respected CAF/FIFA Instructor, Peter Edibi on Thursday oversaw a refresher course for players, coaches and officials of Rivers United FC as the reigning Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions shape up for exertions in the 2022-23 CAF Champions League.
In a bid to leave no stone unturned and also to ensure that the United give Nigeria creditable representation in the competition, an intensive course was arranged to keep the team in the loop as regards the latest regulations of the game.
“What I and the team did (on Thursday afternoon) was to prepare them for the continental competition they are going into – the CAF Champions League,” Edibi said.
“The basic things we looked at were the amendments in terms of the application and interpretation of the laws of the game.
“We looked at (physical) challenges (during matches), offsides, illegal use of arms, we went to handball situations, and others.
“I think with these, the players are well equipped now to go into the (CAF Champions) League.
“We will continue with the process (of teaching the team) because this is a learning process and it will not be a one off,” he said.
Rivers United won last season’s NPFL title with four games to spare, playing swashbuckling, attacking football while maintaining the meanest defence in the division.
The “Pride of Rivers” will now be looking to transfer that dominance onto the continental stage as they shape up for a two legged battle in the first (preliminary) round of the CAF Champions League against Liberia champions, Watanga.
Rivers State Sports Commissioner, Barrister Green, who also attended the session on Thursday did not mince words as he weighed up the scale of the task to listening members of the club.
“You are all ambassadors of Rivers State and Nigeria in the upcoming CAF Champions League,” Barrister Green stated.
“No Nigerian club has won this competition since 2004 and many years have passed since a Nigerian club last reached the group stages of this competition.
“We as Rivers United must go into this season’s competition with a mindset of conquerors and we are leaving no stone unturned in our drive to participate with distinction, pride and honour.
“It is not enough to just walk into the pitch for games without a firm grasp of the rules of the game.
“Playing without knowledge of the rules of the game will be useless to us.
“So you all have the opportunity to go through the rudiments of the new rules of the game through an expert, Mr. Peter Edibi.
“It is important to be conversant with the amended rules so you (the players) get aquatinted and also assimilate what will be taught,” he implored.
The Sports chief concluded by reminding the players of continued support from the sponsors, the Rivers State Government.
“We are not taking part in the Champions League to make up the numbers,” he said.
“The Governor of our dear State (Rivers), His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has promised that each member of the team will receive $40,000.00 USD of you reach the group stages of the competition.
“So you can imagine what will happen if the team goes past that stage and reaches the quarter finals, semis and even the final.
“You (players and officials) also know what the management of the team will do for you if you perform creditably in the competition.
“So I implore you all to put in your very best to ensure you make everyone proud.
“On our part as sponsors, we will ensure that the team is totally prepared and catered for in all respects.
“The refresher course co-ordinated by Peter Edibi is just a minute part of our comprehensive preparation of and for this team, not just fir continental games but domestic exertions as well,” he concluded.
United will proceed with the next phase of their preparations for the CAF Champions League when they make the trip to Ikenne, Remo, Ogun State where they will participate in the Value Jet Cup.
The competition will also integrate three of Nigeria’s other representatives in CAF’s inter club competitions, namely Plateau United, Remo Stars and Kwara United.
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Rivers State Commissioner of Sports