Sundowns, Raja and Petro chase quarterfinal progression

Sundowns, Raja and Petro chase quarterfinal progression
Mamelodi Sundowns players warming up

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Mar 11, 2022. 10:00

The likes of Mamelodi Sundowns, Raja Casablanca and Petro de Luanda could secure progression into the quarterfinals of the CAF Champions League when Matchday 4 of the competition is played on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 March.

Sundowns will guarantee a top-two finish in Group A if they can defeat Al Ahly at FNB Stadium (with their usual home venues in Tshwane deemed unsuitable by CAF) on Saturday afternoon – regardless of the result in the Omdurman derby between Al Hilal and Al Merrikh on Friday.

The Brazilians were 1-0 victors over the Red Devils when the teams met in Cairo in Matchday 3 in late February, with Thapelo Morena securing something of a ‘smash and grab’ win.

“Going into the game we want to carry over the aggression, the hard work and the willingness to play. We created good chances and scored good goals, so that’s the most important thing we want to take,” said Morena.

In Group B, a fourth successive win for Raja Casablanca – who will be away to bottom-of-the-log Horoya AC in Conakry early on Saturday evening – will secure progression for the Moroccan side, while debutants AmaZulu would also seal a quarterfinal berth by completing a ‘double’ over ES Setif with their clash in Algiers later the same night. Usuthu defeated the North Africans 1-0 when the teams met in Durban last time out.

Group C is rather more tightly contested, with just four points separating the teams. Co-leaders Esperance de Tunis and CR Belouizdad will be away to Etoile du Sahel and at home to Jwaneng Galaxy respectively. For CRB, a home victory against their Botswana opponents on Friday night, combined with a draw or loss for EST the following afternoon, would put them in pole position to secure top spot the following week.

“I am very satisfied with my team which is growing in power despite the fact that we are going on with a lot of matches in recent weeks between the National Championship and the African Champions League,” said Belouizdad coach Marcos Paqueta.

Surprise Group D leaders Petro de Luanda could stun the African football community event more by securing quarterfinal progression: they would need to beat Angolan compatriots Sagrada Esperanca on Saturday evening, and hope that Friday’s heavyweight battle between Zamalek and Wydad Casablanca in Cairo does not produce a home win.

The White Knights, meanwhile, axed coach Patrice Carteron after a 3-1 loss to Wydad late last month and new man Jesualdo Ferreira will be under major pressure to keep them alive in the tournament.

CAF Champions League, Matchday 4 fixtures

All times CAT

Friday 11 March

15:00: Al Hilal v Al Merrikh

18:00: Zamalek v Wydad Casablanca

21:00: CR Belouizdad v Jwaneng Galaxy

Saturday 12 March

15:00: Mamelodi Sundowns v Al Ahly

15:00: Etoile du Sahel v Esperance de Tunis

18:00: Horoya AC v Raja Casablanca

18:00: Petro de Luanda v Sagrada Esperanca

21:00: ES Setif v AmaZulu

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