By Salawudeen Olawale
Nigerian champions Enugu Rangers say they have written an appeal to Caf to protest the use of striker Hossam ‘Paulo’ Salama by Zamalek SC in their first leg meeting in the Caf Champions League round of 32 game last weekend.
Rangers suffered a heavy 1-4 defeat to the Egyptian side with Salama, being one of the goal scorers and now the Nigerian club are claiming that they have “officially petitioned against Zamalek SC of Egypt for fielding an ineligible player (Hossam Salama) in the first leg of the Caf Champions League round of 32 match.”
The Flying Antelopes in their letter of petition, filed through the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to Caf, claimed that Salama was registered by Smouha for Africa’s second tier club competition, the Caf Confederation Cup and stated that the striker was not deregistered from their squad before the January 15 deadline.
The Nigerian club further insisted that Smouha only removed Salama from their squad on January 30, then allowing Zamalek to include him in their Caf Champions League team rather than wait till the group stage before he can feature in the competition.
“Rangers International FC Enugu have officially petitioned against Zamalek SC of Egypt for fielding an ineligible player (Hossam Salama) in the first leg of the CAF Champions League Round of 32 match.
“The two-page petition by Rangers International FC Enugu, was written today, 15th March, 2017 and sent immediately to the Secretary General, Confederation of African Football, through the General Secretary, Nigeria Football Federation, Abuja, intimating NFF and Caf on Zamalek SC fielding of player, Hossam Salama that was initially registered by SMOUHA Club of Egypt, a club already playing in the Caf Confederation Cup, stating that Smouha Club did not remove the said player, Hossam Salama from their list before the deadline date of 15th January 2017 as outlined by Caf but only did so on 30th of January 2017 to be illegally added by Zamalek SC of Egypt,” a statement released by the Nigerian champions read late on Wendesday.
Rangers now feel that Zamalek have breached the Caf Champions League competition rules of Article V Paragraph 3(a) and 4 which states that “A player who is qualified to play in Caf Champions League must possess a license in his club issued by its national association and registered in his federation on 15th January of the year of the competition at the latest for the 1st period of registration and on 10th August of the year of the competition, at the latest, for the second period of registration.
“A player is not qualified to play in Caf Champions League in case he was registered with a club and then loaned by this club to another one unless he was registered again in the second period of registration.”
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club are now hoping Caf will hear their case against Zamalek in line with the competition rules.
Rangers and Zamalek will square up at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu in the second leg of the Caf Champions League round of 32 this Sunday.