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Controversy hits USM Alger-Plateau Utd clash

The controversy-hit CAF Confederation Cup fixture between USM Alger and Plateau United staggered to a new dimension on Monday when the  Nigerian champions claimed they  resisted moves  by  the  Algerians to alter the kick-off of their second leg clash in Algiers  for Tuesday.

Plateau won the first leg of the second-tier African club competition clash 2-1 in Lagos on April 8, but a bribery allegation took some of the shine off the Jos side’s laboured win.

South African referee Victor Gomes alleged that he and his assistants were approached before the game  with an offer of $30‚000 to fix the result but they  rejected the bribe.  Gomes later  reported the matter to the Confederation of African Football.

However, both clubs denied the allegation, with USM  stating that  the allegation  was a “hate campaign to destabilise the club”.

Plateau said they couldn’t have offfered $30‚000   to fix the encounter when they are embroiled in financial crisis.

Reports  have claimed this time round that USM, who require an outright victory to reach the group stage, pressured Plateau officials to agree to a  kick-off change. The Nigerians suffered a delayed flight to the Algerian capital due to weather.

Spokesman  for the Nigerian Premier League giants Albert Dakup  said USM officials told them that playing the match late in the evening would boost their gate takings.

“While we were training at the USMA Stadium, two officials of USM accosted  Plateau United team manager, and an NFF official who accompanied the team trying to convince them to change the kick-off time,” Dakup was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria as saying on Monday.

“The move was, however, rejected by the team because investigation shows that the hosts are not comfortable with the timing which is not favourable to them.

“The reason is that the weather won’t be to their advantage, as the weather may not be cold enough  before the match kicks off at 6pm (as scheduled by CAF).

“The officials of USM Alger gave a flimsy excuse that most of their fans might be denied the opportunity of  watching the game,  because of the  heavy traffic during the kick-off.”

Other teams representing Nigeria in the competition are MFM, Enyimba  and Akwa United.

Meanwhile,  Enyimba, who  Bidvest drew 1-1 in South Africa with Wits,  are favourites to progress to the group  stage.  The former Nigerian champions host the South Africans in Calabar on Tuesday.

Akwa, who  host Sudanese club  Al Hilal  in Uyo  on Wednesday, need to overcome a 2-0 deficit. MFM,   who lost 1-0 to  Djoliba in Lagos, also need to win  2-0 to advance.


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