Nigerian football supporters had two reasons to celebrate on Wednesday as Rivers United and Plateau United scored nine goals between them in CAF Confederation Cup play-off triumphs.
Last month was disastrous for clubs from the most populous country in Africa with Rivers and Plateau eliminated from the CAF Champions League and Kwara United from the Confederation Cup.
But results took a dramatic turn for the better in the first legs of play-offs in the second-tier Confederation Cup as Rivers and Plateau went on goal sprees against Libyan opponents.
Rivers, who suffered a 7-3 aggregate drubbing by Wydad Casablanca in the Champions League and were demoted to the Confederation Cup, hammered Al Nasr 5-0 in Port Harcourt.
Plateau, beaten on away goals by Esperance Tunis in the marquee African club competition, scored in the final minute to complete a 4-1 victory over Al Akhdar in Abuja.
Ebube Duru of Rivers and Albert Hilary of Plateau were the individual stars, scoring twice each in victories that virtually guaranteed their clubs group-stage places.
Duru converted penalties in each half and the other goals for Rivers, who led 3-0 at half-time, came from Kazie Enyinnaya, Ghanaian Paul Acquah and Malachi Ohawume.
Mustapha Yuga and Ifeanyi Emmanuel scored in the first half and Hilary netted in the second half either side of a goal from Angolan Ary Papel for Akhdar.
– South African sides disappoint –
A third Libyan contender, Al Ahly Tripoli, went ahead in the first minute through Anis Saltou to edge Marumo Gallants of South Africa 1-0 in Benghazi.
South African sides disappointed with Royal AM losing 2-0 away to TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cape Town City held 0-0 at home by USM Alger of Algeria.
Shock Champions League losers to Vipers of Uganda last month, Mazembe regained some pride in Lubumbashi thanks to second-half goals from Ernest Luzolo and Zambian Rainford Kalaba.
Former Club World Cup runners-up Mazembe are the equal second most successful club in CAF competitions, winning 11, including back-to-back Confederation Cup finals in 2016 and 2017.
DR Congo have three clubs in the play-offs and they all won with Saint Eloi Lupopo and Daring Club Motema Pembe the only sides to record away victories in 15 first legs.
Lupopo had winger Rodrigue Ndibwa sent off on 75 minutes but held on to beat Rail Kadiogo of Burkina Faso 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal from Josue Kazema.
Kadiogo were disadvantaged by having to play in the Benin city of Cotonou because there are no international-standard stadiums in Burkina Faso.
Burundi also have no venue suitable for international fixtures so Flambeau Centre had to host Motema Pembe in Tanzania and fell 2-0 with Bayindula Nkongo and Platini Mpiana scoring.
Holders Renaissance Berkane of Morocco, seeking a record equalling third Confederation Cup title, lost 1-0 at US Monastir of Tunisia, with Algerian Abdelkader Boutiche the match-winner.