Bendel Insurance FC of Benin, Edo State is poised to make history once more as they play at the Continental stage for the first time after 34 years, in the opening game of this season’s CAF Confederation Cup against Aso Chlef of Algeria on Saturday (today).
ASO Chlef are the 2022/23 Algerian Cup winners and will face Nigeria’s Federation Cup holders, Bendel Insurance across two legs and the winner will proceed to the second round of Africa’s second tier club competition.
Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission, Mr. Yusuf Alli, in a statement on Wednesday in Benin, appealed to the Benin Arsenals fans to come out in their numbers to cheer their darling team to victory.
He also disclosed that all gates to the main bowl will be wide open for free to all spectators for the match billed to kick off by 4 pm.
“We just want you to know what is happening to Bendel Insurance from our own end and also from the Governor’s side of it. The last time Bendel Insurance played at the continental level was 34 years ago. Now, we are playing on the continent with the first match being this Saturday, we need the whole stadium to be filled up. We want a full capacity. We have tickets printed, airing television and radio commercials. Ticket gates are available for everyone. It is free,” Alli said.
“The state government and our governor are putting everything into hosting the match, ensuring that our team, Bendel Insurance, comes out on top on Saturday.”
ASO Chlef last met a Nigerian team in 2012 CAF Champions League group stage. They played Sunshine Stars twice in the group stage and lost both encounter 2-0 and 2-1 in that order.
Meanwhile, the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has urged residents of the State to come out in large numbers to support the home team.
This is even as he has approved the release of 10 buses to mobilise supporters to and back from the stadium. Obaseki also approved hundreds of jerseys to be distributed for free to football fans at the stadium.
In his pep talk to the players, Obaseki said, “You have all done so well to get to where you are now. So, today I decided to be with you and watch you train, and to encourage you. I want you to know that this is just the beginning. We have made arrangements to fly you to all the destinations where you have matches. We must go and win this tournament but for Saturday, just be in good spirits. You know what to do to win; rest properly and ensure you win for us.
“We, as a government, will do our bit for you. We love you and love how you are making us proud. So, continue to make us proud. We know how capable you are as a team and I will be here on Saturday to cheer you up.”
The return leg holds in Chlef next week Saturday with the winner on aggregate facing 2022 CAF Confederation Cup Champions, RS Berkane in the second round.