North African rivals Rabat and Sfaxien geared for quarterfinal battle

North African rivals Rabat and Sfaxien geared for quarterfinal battle
Club Sportif Sfaxien player Hamza Mathlouthi ( C) fights for the ball with Mouloudia Club D'Alger player Ayoub Azzi (R) during the 2017 CAF Confederations Cup game between Sfaxien and Mouloudia Club D'Alger in Sfax, Tunisia on 8 July 2017 © BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Sep 13, 2017. 16:30

North African rivals Faith Union Sport and CS Sfaxien will begin battle for a place in the last four of the CAF Confederation Cup when they face off on Saturday night.

The teams will clash in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie at the Stade de FUS in Rabat, with kick-off set for 21h30 CAT.

Tunisia’s CSS should be regarded as one of the favourites to win this year’s continental competition. They have the pedigree of being three-time Confed Cup champions and booked their place in the quarterfinals by topping Group B ahead of MC Alger, suffering just one defeat in the process.

New coach Jose Mota has also overseen a strong start to their domestic 2017/18 championship, with Sfaxien recording two wins and two draws from four matches. They were last in action on Saturday with an impressive 3-1 victory at Stade Gabesien.

Morocco’s FUS can count themselves lucky to have progressed into the final eight. They were runners-up in Group A (behind another Tunisian side, Club Africain) but finished level on points with KCCA, only edging ahead of the Ugandans on head-to-head results - they beat the East Africans 3-0 in Rabat, but lost 3-1 in Kampala, with their lone away goal proving crucial in the tie breakers.

Yet coach Walid Regragui’s side seem to be in ominous form ahead of this Confed Cup clash: they handed Morocco’s defending champions Wydad Casablanca a football lesson when the teams met in the opening round of the country’s 2017/18 domestic season this past weekend - so much so that Wydad fans applauded FUS’s players and turned on their own, according to reports in their local media.

South African referee Daniel Bennett will be in charge of the match in Rabat, with the return leg set for Friday 22 September at Stade Taieb Mhiri in Sfax. The aggregate winners will face either Al-Hilal Al-Ubayyid or TP Mazembe in the semifinals.

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