Three things that were confirmed in the CAF CL this past weekend

Three things that were confirmed in the CAF CL this past weekend
Al-Ahly player Ali Maaloul scoring second goal during the first leg of CAF champion league soccer match between Al-Ahly and Mamelodi Sundown at Cairo Stadium in Cairo Egypt, 29 February 2020. EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

by Bertin Basson

Monday Mar 02, 2020. 13:00 takes a look at three things that were confirmed in this past weekend’s 2019-20 CAF Champions League action.

This season’s knockout stages commenced on Friday with four first-leg quarterfinal matches taking place at two stadiums in Cairo and Casablanca respectively over the course of two days.

The Cairo International Stadium hosted Zamalek and Al Ahly’s wins over Esperance de Tunis and Mamelodi Sundowns respectively while the Stade Mohammed V played host to wins for Raja Casablanca and Wydad Casablanca over TP Mazembe and Etoile du Sahel.

Home advantage still carries a lot of weight

While away wins are not as uncommon as in previous seasons, the past weekend’s action underlined the importance of home advantage.

All four winning teams finished second in their group, but managed victories over those who finished first with both TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns suffering their first defeats of the campaign.

While the second-leg fixtures are sure to cough up different results, the fact that all four teams were able to win by a two-goal margin underlines the significance of home field advantage on the African continent.

Defenders up for goalscoring responsibilities

All four games had at least one goal coming from a defender with both Al Ahly and Wydad Casablanca’s goals coming from a fullback.

Mohamed Nahiri and Ali Maâloul netted a brace apiece in victory for their respective clubs and while forwards still have an important part to play in deciding the quarterfinal outcomes, don’t be surprised if it is a goal from the back that settles a few of the matches.

It will take a lot to end North African domination

The last three finals have consisted strictly of North African teams and don’t be surprised if this season’s semifinals are dominated with teams from that region following four wins from four for North African clubs this past weekend.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly are the record eight-time champions while Tunisia’s Esperance de Tunis are back-to-back winners of the competition, with Mamelodi Sundowns the last team from outside North Africa to win Africa’s premier cup competition following their aggregate victory over Zamalek in 2016.

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