Friday Mar 18, 2022. 16:00
The quarterfinal line-up for the CAF Confederation Cup will take clearer shape on Sunday when eight fixtures are played across the continent in Matchday 5 of the group phase.
Thus far, only Pyramids FC have secured a ticket into the final eight of the second-tier African club competition, having collected 10 points from four matches in Group A. The team looking most likely to join them from the group is their next opponent, Al Ahly Tripoli, who are just a point behind and will hope to leapfrog into top spot with a win in Benghazi.
However, an away victory for the Egyptians could open the door for CS Sfaxien to come back into the frame, as they look to hand already-eliminated Zanaco a fifth straight defeat with their meeting in Lusaka.
In Group B, it’s a case of three teams battling for the two quarterfinal berths, with Orlando Pirates leading the way on nine points, but they have both JS Saoura and Al Ittihad Tripoli breathing down their necks on seven points apiece.
The Buccaneers face a tough clash away to Saoura in Algiers in a late kick-off, while Ittihad will back themselves to take full advantage of either one or both of their rivals dropping points by winning at home to already-eliminated Royal Leopard in Benghazi.
Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi appears to be feeling the pressure heading into this weekend, recently admitting, “as a coach, the day you get hired, you must be ready to be fired. I don’t think there’s a coach in any league who is not feeling under pressure and I’m in the same pool. So the pressure I understand.”
In Group C, leaders Al Masry can secure quarterfinal progression with a win at home to bottom-of-the-log Cotonsport in an afternoon clash in Alexandria, while TP Mazembe will look to complete a ‘double’ over AS Otoho in their clash in Kinshasa (given their lack of a CAF-approved venue in Brazzaville).
Group D is the most tightly-contested of all, with just three points covering Simba SC (seven points), ASEC Mimosas, RS Berkane (six apiece) and USGN (four). ASEC will look to avenge a 3-1 loss at the hands of Simba when the teams meet in Cotonou (again, due to a lack of CAF-approved venue in Abidjan), while the clash between USGN and Berkane in Niamey could be another thriller – the Moroccan side claimed a 5-3 home win when they met back in mid-February.
CAF Confederation Cup Matchday 5 fixtures
Sunday 20 March
15:00: Al Masry v Cotonsport
15:00: Zanaco v CS Sfaxien
18:00: USGN v RS Berkane
18:00: ASEC Mimosas v Simba SC
18:00: Al Ittihad Tripoli v Royal Leopard
18:00: AS Otoho v TP Mazembe
21:00: JS Saoura v Orlando Pirates
21:00: Al Ahly Tripoli v Pyramids FC