Friday Mar 05, 2021. 09:00
The key showdown between North African powerhouses Esperance de Tunis and Zamalek headlines Matchday 3 of the CAF Champions League’s group stage this weekend.
The Tunisian and Egyptian giants are expected to dominate Group D ahead of Senegal’s Teungueth and MC Alger, and their Saturday evening clash at the Olympic Stadium is the first of back-to-back meetings which could prove decisive in their quarterfinal fate.
The Blood and Gold will be hoping to make the most of home advantage, while the White Knights’ coach Jaime Pacheco is coming under pressure to secure a first win in the group after successive draws on Matchdays 1 and 2.
“I think that we were better during the two halves of the match. We had many opportunities but they didn’t have any dangerous ones,” said Pacheco of his side’s draw away to Teungueth last month. “We had many problems during our flight to Senegal, but we performed well during the match.”
The weekend’s action gets underway on Friday night in Algiers, with hosts CR Belouizdad and visitors Al Hilal of Sudan facing a make-or-break clash in Group B, with their rivals TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns set to meet in Lubumbashi the following afternoon.
Sundowns have impressed with back-to-back wins thus far, but the Ravens are always tough to beat on home soil and will be confident of closing the four-point gap between themselves and the Group B leaders.
Another team which has caught the eye is Tanzania’s Simba SC, who top Group A with six points and famously beat Al Ahly last time out. On Saturday afternoon they face bottom-of-the-log Al Merrikh in Omdurman in a clash which sees visiting coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa come up against a team he was in charge of until very recently.
“It will be a very difficult game because I know that team,” said the Wekundu wa Msimbazi tactician.
Saturday also sees MC Alger head to West Africa for a clash with Teungueth, Wydad Casablanca will host Horoya AC, Al Ahly will look to bounce back from their loss in Dar es Salaam when they welcome DR Congo’s AS Vita to Cairo, and Gavin Hunt, coach of South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs, may well need a win over Angola’s Petro de Luanda in Johannesburg to save his job.
“The scoreline doesn’t look good but I thought we had a couple of good opportunities ourselves,” said Hunt after the Amakhosi were humbled 4-0 by Wydad in a rearranged match this past weekend.
The result stretched their winless run across all competitions to eight matches and left them second from bottom in Group C.
CAF Champions League Matchday 3 fixtures
Friday 5 March
21:00: CR Belouizdad v Al Hilal
Saturday 6 March
15:00: Al Merrikh v Simba SC
15:00: TP Mazembe v Mamelodi Sundowns
18:00: Esperance de Tunis v Zamalek
18:00: Kaizer Chiefs v Petro de Luanda
18:00: Teungueth v MC Alger
21:00: Al Ahly v AS Vita
21:00: Wydad Casablanca v Horoya AC