Champions League: Africa’s giants battle for group stage berths

Champions League: Africa’s giants battle for group stage berths
Mosa Lebusa of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal with teammates during MTN8 2019 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria, on 17 August 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Friday Sep 27, 2019. 08:00

The 16-team field for the group phase of the 2019/20 CAF Champions League will be decided this weekend, with the completion of the final qualifying round.

Several teams will already feel that they have one foot in the next phase: South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns enjoy a 5-0 lead over Cote d’Or, Egyptian giants Al Ahly are well placed at 2-0 up against Cano Sport, as are Wydad Casablanca ahead of hosting FC Nouadhibou, while USM Alger take a 4-1 lead to Kenya for their return game against Gor Mahia.

However, several big teams find themselves in some jeopardy and in need of a strong second-leg performance to ensure they find safe passage to the group stage. This includes reigning African champions Esperance de Tunis, who could only draw 1-1 away to Chad’s Elect Sports, but will back themselves to win at the Olympic Stadium in Rades on Friday night.

Their compatriots Etoile du Sahel are in much deeper trouble, as they welcome Ghana’s Asante Kotoko to Sousse with a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in Kumasi. ESS must put up a powerful showing against the Porcupine Warriors if they are to avoid an early elimination.

DR Congo giants AS Vita and TP Mazembe will be banking on their strength at home in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, as they have 0-0 aggregate score lines ahead of second-leg games against ASC Kara of Togo and Madagascar’s Fosa Juniors respectively.

Nigeria’s final representatives in the competition, Enyimba International, face a tough test as they travel to Sudan on Sunday for a clash against Al Hilal. The first leg in Aba ended 0-0, leaving the People’s Elephant without a lead for the second leg, but knowing that only they can now benefit from the away goals rule.

The giant under biggest threat of elimination is Egypt’s Zamalek, who suffered a 2-1 loss away to Senegal’s Generation Foot. The White Knights must overturn the deficit in Cairo on Saturday or new coach Milutin Sredojevic could see his tenure at the club cut very short indeed.

The 16 aggregate winners advance into the group phase, while the 16 losers drop into the playoff round of the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.

CAF Champions League, first round, second-leg fixtures

Aggregate scores in parenthesis

Friday 27 September

KCCA v Petro de Luanda (0-0)

Mamelodi Sundowns v Cote d’Or (5-0)

Esperance de Tunis v Elect Sport (1-1)

Saturday 28 September

ZESCO United v Young Africans (1-1)

Al Ahly v Cano Sport (2-0)

UD Songo v FC Platinum (0-1)

Raja Casablanca v Al Nasr (3-1)

Zamalek v Generation Foot (1-2)

Sunday 29 September

Etoile du Sahel v Asante Kotoko (0-2)

AS Vita v ASC Kara (0-0)

Horoya AC v JS Kabylie (0-2)

Al Hilal v Enyimba (0-0)

Gor Mahia v USM Alger (1-4)

Wydad Casablanca v FC Nouadhibou (2-0)

Primeiro de Agosto v Green Eagles (2-1)

TP Mazembe v Fosa Juniors (0-0)

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