Cairo derby highlights penultimate round

CAIRO. With just two rounds remaining in the group stages of the CAF Champions League all eight teams involved in the competition still have a chance to qualify for the semi-finals, but no club has yet secured a place in the next round.
AC Leopards Goalkeeper Lawrence Ngome Ngoe (bottom) tries to defend against Egypt's Al-Ahly player Mohammed Abu Trika (C) during the first leg match. Net photo.
AC Leopards Goalkeeper Lawrence Ngome Ngoe (bottom) tries to defend against Egypt's Al-Ahly player Mohammed Abu Trika (C) during the first leg match. Net photo.

CAIRO. With just two rounds remaining in the group stages of the CAF Champions League all eight teams involved in the competition still have a chance to qualify for the semi-finals, but no club has yet secured a place in the next round.

That is bound to change this weekend, as several clubs are on the verge of making it through, while others are up against the wall of elimination.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals, with the winner of the competition representing Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year in Morocco.

Match of the week

For Zamalek, five-time winners of the event, matches are running out if they want to extend their stay in the competition beyond the group stage.

The White Knights have four points in Group A, three behind Orlando Pirates and city rivals Al Ahly, who won their seventh Champions League trophy last season.

Zamalek coach Helmi Toulan is confident that his side will be stronger than they were in the 1-1 draw in the first group game against the Red Devils.

“It is different this time around and it won’t like the previous game. The team is now more complete and all the players are ready,” the coach said.

His Ahly counterpart Mohamed Youssef will be without Emad Moteab as the international striker is still undergoing rehabilitation after a back injury. The match will be played in the Red Sea resort of Gouna behind closed doors due to ongoing security concerns.

Other matches

The other Group A game sees 1995 winners Orlando Pirates travel to Dolisie for their game against AC Leopards.

The Buccaneers have chartered a plane for their trip to Congo to prevent them from having to endure a lengthy road journey, and they will be looking to do better than the scoreless draw against Leopards with which they opened the group phase.

The Congolese have fallen three points off the pace of the group leaders after having lost their last two matches to Al Ahly by single goals.

Pirates’ coach Roger de Sa will be without Bafana Bafana players Andile Jali and Thabo Matlaba, as well as Happy Jele.

The trio is all suspended for the game against Leopards after picking up their second bookings of the group stage in Pirates’ defeat in Egypt against Zamalek.

One of Africa’s true giants, Esperance are in the driving seat to become the first club to qualify for the semi-finals.

The Blood and Gold, who are on nine points in Group B, need just a point from their home game against Recreativo Libolo, who are third in the group with four points.

The Angolan champions though, fancy their chances and beat the Tunisian club in their first game. “We want to win this game, and the team is very confident despite some limitations. We respect the opponents, but nothing will stop us achieving our objective of winning this game,” Recreativo coach Miller Gomes said.

Champions in 1994 and 2011, Esperance are trying to reach the final for the fourth year on the trot, and they top the table by two over Coton Sport.

The Cameroon side are away to Sewe Sports, who are fourth in the group with three points and will be eliminated from the competition unless they win their match.

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