Fabrice Nguessi Ondama (R) of Wydad Casablanca vies for the ball with Maroof Yusuf (L) of Zamalek during the African Champions League (CAF) semi-final leg soccer match between Zamalek and Wydad Casablanca at Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco, 24 September 2016. EPA/ABDELHAK SENNA
Friday Sep 29, 2017. 10:00
AfricanFootball looks ahead to a weekend which will see the 2017 CAF Champions League open its penultimate round with two first-leg, semifinal clashes - both of which are North African derbies.
The action gets underway on Friday night with the meeting of USM Alger and Wydad Casablanca at the Stade du 5 Juillet in Algiers.
The Algerian hosts are the only club out of the remaining four which has never won the Champions League (they were runners-up to TP Mazembe in 2015) and they will be itching for the chance to lay their hands on the trophy for the first time.
However, they face a tough opponent in Wydad. The Moroccans claimed the scalp of defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the previous round, ousting the South Africans 3-2 on penalties after the two teams were tied 1-1 on aggregate.
Expect a tactical chess-match between two teams which have been strong defensively throughout the competition.
On Sunday, at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse, Etoile du Sahel and Al Ahly will renew a rivalry which has burned fiercely in this competition since the turn of the century.
The teams have met twice in the Champions League final: in 2005 the Egyptians triumphed 3-0 on aggregate, but two years later it was the Tunisian side’s turn to taste glory when they won 3-1 over the two legs.
Al Ahly have already overcome one Tunisian team, defeating Esperance de Tunis 4-3 on aggregate in the quarterfinals, while Etoile will hope for an Al Ahly ‘double’: they beat Libya’s Al Ahli Tripoli in the previous round and will now hope to repeat the feat against the famous Egyptian giants.
The second-leg matches for both semifinals will be played on the weekend of 20-22 October.
CAF Champions League fixtures
All times CAT - semifinal, first legs
Friday 29 September
USM Alger v Wydad Casablanca - 19h00
Sunday 1 October
Etoile du Sahel v Al Ahly - 19h30