Take two for Zamalek, Raja in CAFCL semi

Take two for Zamalek, Raja in CAFCL semi
Zamalek player Achraf Bencharki

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Oct 31, 2020. 11:00

Zamalek and Raja Casablanca will complete their CAF Champions League semifinal with the rescheduled second leg match, set for the Cairo International Stadium on the evening of Sunday 1 November 2020.

The teams were originally meant to have finished the tie last weekend, but the Confederation of African Football delayed the match due an outbreak of Covid-19 in Raja’s squad which prevented the Moroccan side from travelling.

The first leg in Casablanca on October 18 ended 1-0 in favour of Zamalek – thanks to a first-half strike from Achraf Bencharki, his fifth in the 2019-20 tournament – leaving the Egyptian giants very much in control and the clear favourites to advance.

They’re also in good nick in terms of recent form, defeating Ismaily 3-1 in their final Egyptian Premier League match earlier in the week, which ensured the White Knights will return to the Champions League for the 2020-21 edition of the continental tournament.

“We will show our character and ambition because our target is to reach the final,” said Zamalek coach Jaime Pacheco, who added: “My players are exhausted, and hopefully this will not reflect on such an important game.

“Having the return leg at home is an advantage but only theoretically. All the semifinalists are good teams and chances are equal.”

Raja, meanwhile, have not been in action since the first-leg defeat to Zamalek, but coach Jamal Sellami insists that their ultimate goal of a fourth Champions League title is still possible – though they will have to fight hard for it.

“Our target is to win the Champions League for the fourth time. Games between teams from Morocco and Egypt are always tough and are decided by the smallest of details. I have high confidence in my players,” explained Sellami.

The aggregate winners will face Al Ahly (who defeated Wydad Casablanca in the other semifinal) in the final on Friday, November 6 in Cairo.

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