VS’left for the first round of the Champions League of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). This is the last edition organized before the African Superleague was created. From the outset, the Maghreb clubs distinguished themselves with almost no faults. Lower down, the heavyweights ensured not without having encountered some resistance from more modest but voluntary clubs. In the western part of the continent, the Ivorian club ASEC d’Abidjan fared well, unlike Asante Kotoko, who lost their flag at the start of the Champions League.
Almost faultless for North African clubs
So first, North Africa. Top-tier clubs were exempted from the first round of the competition, including Wydad Casablanca, Al Ahly, Raja Casablanca and Espérance de Tunis. But other big names have been in contention for the opening of the African club season. Almost unsurprisingly, all the teams responded even though CR Belouizdad, Algeria’s double champions, were defeated at home by Bo Rangers of Sierra Leone, 0-0, 3-0. In an almost similar scenario, JS Kabylie eliminated Casa Sports, champions of Senegal despite a defeat in the first leg (0-1, 3-0). It was the same for the Tunisians of US Monastir against APR FC of Rwanda with the same score.
The only surprise came from Burundi, where the Flambeau du Center managed to eliminate Al Ittihad de Tripoli, ex-club of Patrick Mboma, 18 times champion of Libya, thanks to a but scored away (1-0 , 1-2) against all odds. Last point: Zamalek of Egypt, who have only played the first leg for the moment, won 2-0 in Chad against Elec Football Club. His return match will take place next Sunday.
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The East African leaders at the rendezvous
Strongholds of club football, Sudan and Tanzania, through the duels to be played respectively by Al Hilal and Al Merreikh and Simba SC and Yanga SC, have comfortably settled in the top 12 of the CAF coefficient in recent years. Thus these clubs have become major players in the transfer market. Al Hilal, in particular, received the best players from leagues such as DR Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal. He appointed the reins of the team to Florian Ibenge, who left the Moroccan team RS de Berkane on a Throne Cup-CAF Cup double.
In a difficult first round, the opponent of Saint-Georges, thirty-time Ethiopian champion, Al Hilal was not far from experiencing a bad surprise. Led 2-0 in Addis Ababa, it was a reduction in the score at the end of the match that allowed the Sudanese giants to leave with a precious but on the outside before winning in the last moments of the second leg in a Al-Hilal stadium sold out and penal surty. This victory is very important for his new coach to whom the objective of reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League has been designated.
His rival Al Merreikh, for his part, had difficulty gaining the upper hand over the club of Salomon Kalou and Alexandre Song, in this case Arta Solar 7 from Djibouti), thanks to a 2-1 away victory followed by a zero in Sudan. Otherwise, the two giants of Dar Es Salam get off a little easier. Simba SC got the better of Malawi’s Nyasa Big Bullets with two 2-0 wins and three goals from Zambian rookie Moses Phiri. The Tanzanian champion, undefeated in the league since April 25, 2021, turned against Zalan FC of South Sudan 9-0 over the two games, including six goals from his Congolese striker Fiston Mayele.
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In West Africa, ASEC assures, but Kotoko falls
Lagging behind other regions at club level, West Africa struggles to present several high-level teams, with the exception of Guinea’s AC Horoya, regulars in African competitions for ten years in point of being exempted from the first round of the Champions League and allowing Guinea to have a fairly good CAF coefficient. Present in the top 12 African championships, Guinea has four teams taking part in the African Cups. However for two years, the ASEC of Abidjan progresses and finds a suitable level. Having reached the group stage of the CAF Cup last season, the Ivorian champion carried out a great economic operation with the sale to Red Bull Salzburg of his prodigy Karim Konaté for the sum of 3.5 million euros, a tidy sum for the accounts of the club. Opposed to Coton Sport of Benin, ASEC won 2-1 then 2-0 to validate its place in the next round.
Winner of the Champions League in 1971 and 1983, Asante Kotoko of Ghana acted as favorites against RC Kadiogo of Burkina Faso despite a turbulent off-season which resulted in the resignation of its coach Dr Narteh Ogum and the departure of executives important. Winning 1-0 away, the Ghanaians lost at the Baba Yara Stadium 1-0 and saw their African adventure come to an end following a penalty shootout where they missed three penalties on the great amazement of their public.
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Beautiful posters in the 2nd round
The next round of the CAF Champions League, qualifying for the group stages, promises with clashes to come in East Africa notably between Yanga SC and Al Hilal Omdurman, with a decisive match to be played in Sudan.
In West Africa, ASEC Abidjan will face Horoya AC. Otherwise, for Southern Africa, the Angolans of Petro Luanda, semi-finalists last season and who made the talk against the Mozambicans of Black Bulls, will face Cape Town FC, 2nd in the South African championship last year. .
Further north, a hell of a duel between US Monastir and a claimed Al Ahly who will return to the competition, without Pitso Mosimane on the bench. The South African coach, who resigned the day after the Champions League final, lost to Wydad, has since been replaced by Portuguese Ricardo Soares, who only lasted two months. In his place, former Austria and FC Bale coach Marcel Koller was appointed. As for the reigning African champion, Wydad Casablanca, he will travel to Nigeria to face Rivers FC in the first leg while Espérance de Tunis will challenge his runner-up, the Plateau FC club. Important point to remember: the teams lost in this 2e The tours will be reversed in the CAF Cup for a play-off which should see them through to the group stages of the competition.
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