Big guns look to avoid CAF club elimination

Big guns look to avoid CAF club elimination
Players warm during the Al Ahly training session

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Oct 22, 2021. 12:00

Several of Africa’s ‘big guns’ will have tough work ahead of them to avoid an early elimination from either the CAF Champions or CAF Confederation Cup, as both competitions complete their second preliminary round ties this weekend.

In the top-tier CAFCL, look no further than title holders Al Ahly, who could only manage a 1-1 draw away to Niger’s USGN last weekend and need a strong showing at home on Saturday evening to ensure they reach the group phase of the competition.

“This is football, we can’t get 100% of what we want, but we are growing the team and we are getting bigger, I am happy to be a part of that,” said Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane, who finds himself under pressure after failing to win the Egyptian title last season.

“We need to believe in what we have, we have a much stronger team than the one we had last year, I’ve been here for only 12 months, let me settle and give me a chance.”

Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca, who have been one of the Champions League’s top contenders for the past half decade, find themselves needing to make a comeback on Sunday night when they host Ghanaian side Hearts of Oak, who claimed a 1-0 win in Accra last weekend to seize control of the tie.

“This loss is not a problem for us at all, because we know we can overturn the result come Sunday in Casablanca, Morocco,” said Wydad assistant coach Al Miskin.

Other notable clubs who find themselves in challenging positions in the CAFCL include DR Congo heavyweights TP Mazembe (0-0 ahead of hosting South Africa’s AmaZulu), Esperance de Tunis (0-0 ahead of hosting Al Ittihad of Libya), Mamelodi Sundowns (2-2 ahead of hosting Maniema Union), ES Setif (1-3 down ahead of hosting Nouadhibou of Mauritania) and CR Belouizdad (3-1 down ahead of hosting ASEC Mimosas).

It’s a similar story in the CAF Confederation Cup for CS Sfaxien, who must overturn a 1-0 deficit against Nigeria’s Bayelsa United. The latter’s coach, Deprieye Teibowei, is confident his side can complete a surprise victory in the tie.

“My expectation was, at least, if we are able to win with a wide margin, going back to play them in Tunisia will be a formality,” said Teibowei.

“But now, I’m not saying that we are not going to go there and get the desired result. If they can come here and play us this way, we can equally go there and play them the same way.

“For Bayelsa United, we have played home, we have won 1-0, we’ve been able to see the so-called CS Sfaxien that people thought were invincible.”

Elsewhere in the CAFCC, AS Vita Club will look to recover from 1-2 down at home to Marumo Gallants; Orlando Pirates are locked 0-0 ahead of hosting Diables Noirs; and Enyimba will back themselves to see off Diambars thanks to a 1-0 lead ahead of hosting the second leg.

“Personally, I am happy that we played this way. We knew this team [Diambars] are a very good team technically,” said Enyimba coach Finidi George. “They pass the ball very well but at the same time we kept our composure, we kept our formation and then tried to hold them so that they cannot score an easy goal.”

The 16 aggregate winners of the CAFCL ties will advance into the group stage of that competition. The 16 losing teams will ‘drop’ into the CAFCC and be joined by the 16 second round winners of that for a playoff round which will decide the 16 teams advancing into the group stage of that competition.

CAF Champions League fixtures

Times CAT. Second leg, second preliminary round, aggregate scores in parenthesis

Friday 22 October

19:00: Zamalek v Tusker (1-0)

Saturday 23 October

15:00: Royal Leopards v Sagrada Esperanca (1-3)

15:00: Etoile du Sahel v APR (1-1)

15:00: Zanaco v Al Merrikh (0-3)

16:00: TP Mazembe v AmaZulu (0-0)

17:00: Petro de Luanda v AS Otoho (2-2)

18:00: Al Ahly v USGN (1-1)

20:00: Raja Casablanca v LPRC Oilers (2-0)

Sunday 24 October

15:00: Simba SC v Jwaneng Galaxy (2-0)

16:00: Mamelodi Sundowns v Maniema Union (2-2)

18:00: Esperance de Tunis v Al Ittihad Tripoli (0-0)

18:30: Horoya AC v Stade Malien (1-0)

19:00: ES Setif v FC Nouadhibou (1-3)

19:00: Al Hilal v Rivers United (1-1)

20:00: CR Belouizdad v ASEC Mimosas (1-3)

21:00: Wydad Casablanca v Hearts of Oak (0-1)

CAF Confederation Cup fixtures

Times CAT. Second leg, second preliminary round, aggregate scores in parenthesis

Friday 22 October

16:00: AS Vita Club v Marumo Gallants (1-2)

16:00: Interclube v CFFA (3-0)

Saturday 23 October

16:00: Cotonsport v Orapa United (1-2)

18:00: ASFA v Binga (1-0)

19:00: Al Ahli Tripoli v Biashara United (0-2)

19:00: Al Masry v URA (0-0)

19:00: JS Saoura v Concorde (2-1)

19:00: CS Sfaxien v Bayelsa United (0-1)

21:00: Pyramids v Azam (0-0)

Sunday 24 October

15:00: Gor Mahia v Al Ahly Merowe (3-1)

16:00: Motema Pembe v AS Kigali (2-1)

16:30: Enyimba v Diambars (1-0)

17:00: Primeiro de Agosto v Red Arrows (0-1)

17:30: Orlando Pirates v Diables Noirs (0-0)

20:00: RS Berkane v US Ben Guerdane (1-0)

20:00: JS Kabylie v FAR Rabat (1-0)

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