The return leg games of the CAF Champions League quarterfinals will be played this Saturday with some teams already one leg into the semifinals.
Five times African champions TP Mazembe played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg against Tanzanian Premier League giants Simba FC at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
The Tanzanians failed to make their domination of the game count, with a 55% ball possession, completing 386 passes against 329 for TP Mazembe. Though they had more shots, 12 compared to TP Mazembe’s 10, Mazembe had more shots on target, 2 against 1 for the Tanzanians. Simba’s coach Patrick Aussem knows that for them to have any chance in this game they have to improve on their finishing.
In Lubumbashi, Mazembe will be a different team, especially with their very vocal supporters. Kevin Mudenko, Jackson Muleka and Mabi Mputu who were far from their best in that away game will definitely up their game in front of their supporters.
The game will be played on the back of a lot of controversy concerning the change of match officials by CAF. The continent’s football governing body replaced referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa(Ethiopia), assistant referees Temesign Samuel Atango( Ethiopia) and Gilbert Cheruiyot(Kenya) and fourth official Peter Waweru (Kenya) with new officials. The new officials are Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe, Berhe Tesfargiogis O’Micheal of Eritrea, Romeo Kassengele and Audrick Nkhole of Zambia.
Simba have written to CAF to protest against the change of officials but CAF has justified the change claiming that it’s for technical reasons.
Eight times winners and runners up in the last two editions Al Ahly have a mountain to climb at home against 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns. Sundowns won the first leg game 5-0 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
It was Al Ahly’s heaviest defeat in the competition in 77 years.
Sundowns arrived Egypt on Tuesday without their Liberian striker Anthony Laffor still injured but they got back Subusiso Vilakazi who has been on the sidelines with a lengthy injury.
The game has been moved from Suez to Alexandria, were Al Ahly‘s Coach Martin Lasaarte is plotting one of African football’s greatest comebacks. This change of venue has been considered as mind games by analysts and considered as unlawful based on the CAF standards. Lasaarte knows they are down but not out yet, all they need to do is to give their all in front on their supporters.
“I promise that every player in the team will give his best and I will do everything to compensate for the harsh result of the previous game.”
On his part, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane knows there is no room for complacency.
“It’s going to be a difficult game. We have to fight fire with fire”
Mosimane knows Al Ahly are capable of overturning the tie and puts his charges on guard.
“I hope we keep our integrity. I hope we keep the result. I hope we protect the big work we have done. We don’t have a guarantee, but it’s all in the mind.”
Sundowns will count on the competition’s top scorer who got their opener in the first leg Themba Zwane to look for a crucial away goal.
Defending champions Esperance of Tunis threw away a two goals lead in the first leg against CS Constantine, but they rallied and got a winner in a precious away win. Cameroon midfielder Frank Kom and his teammates will try to protect that lead at home against a very spirited CS Constantine who are at this stage of the competition for the first time in the club’s history.
Coach Moine Chabaâni of Esperance will try to stop an Algerian team that will come out to fight for a favourable results so they have to be ready from start to finish and fight for every ball against Denis Lavagne’s charges.
CS Constantine have filed a protest against Esperance’s Algerian player Youssef Belaili, claiming that the player is still under suspension from FIFA for the use of banned drugs till September this year. Esperance have responded that their player is clear and has participated in many international games and competitions already since he return from suspension.
Faouzi Benzarti’s Wydad of Casablanca who won the competition in 2017 were help to a 0-0 draw in Guinea by Horoya. Wydad have been struggling for goals in this season’s competition which is something Horoya and their 30 years old Cameroon midfielder Jean Dipita Ebele can capitalize on.
At the Prince Moulay Abdullah Stadium in Casablanca, Horoya will try to get a results that will send them to the semifinals of the competition for the first time.
The Guineans under the tutelage of Didier Gomes Da Rosa dominated the first leg with a 65% ball possession and 13 shots against 5 for Wydad. They will depend on their 30 years old winger Ocansey Mandela for inspiration for a vital away goal. Horoya’s President Antonio Souaré dreams to make the club an African giant which explains why he is not holding back his wallet to make sure everything is done to help the club to African club football glory as a way to take the club to the top of the African football pyramid.
It is another exciting weekend of African champions league football and www.kick442.com will give you all the updates.