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CAF Dismiss Enugu Rangers' Protest

By Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has dismissed an appeal by Enugu Rangers to declare them finalists in the maiden edition of the Confederation cup. Ghana's Asante Kotoko qualified for the final after a dramatic climax to Group A . Kotoko beat Al-Hilal of Sudan 3-0 in the central city of Kumasi to finish level on 10 points with Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, who drew 0-0 against Petro Atletico of Angola in Luanda.

But the Ghanaian club finished top of the table because of a superior head-to-head record having won by a wider margin at home to the Nigerians than they lost away. Al-Hilal, strong at home but weak away, came third with nine points and Petro fourth with five.

In a strongly worded fax to Caf, the Nigerians claimed that they were not aware of the head to head rule so tactically played for a draw against Petro Athletico. But Suleiman Habuba who is the director of communications for Caf in Cairo denied the Nigerian claims ''We held a symposium in June at which officials from Rangers were present so there can be no excuses''

Immediately after the last group matches ended, supporters of Enugu Rangers took to the streets in celebration as they were convinced their side had qualified to the final.

Kotoko have appeared in seven African Champions Cup (now League) finals, winning two, and lost the 2002 final of the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup.

The first leg of the final on November 28 will be in Accra against arch rivals and 2000 Champions League winners Hearts of Oak. Kotoko are at home on December 11 for the decider with the winners receiving 300,000 dollars and the runners-up 200,000. Kotoko were one of the five clubs from the Champions League who won playoffs against Confederation Cup second round winners to secure mini-league places.

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