CAF Champions League 2020

Dicey home duels for last four slots

CAF Champions League semifinal spots for grabs. Photo | CAF Online
CAF Champions League semifinal spots for grabs. Photo | CAF Online


“Two goals deficit” will be the tag of the contests when the return legs of Total CAF Champions League 2019/20 quarterfinals take place this weekend. All the four first leg games witnessed home sides winning with a two-goal margin, a result that keeps doors open when the reverse fixtures are played on Friday and Saturday.

Holders Esperance were the only side to manage an away goal in their 3-1 defeat to Zamalek in Cairo, while the other three games ended in 2-0 victories for hosts Al Ahly, Raja Club Athletic and Wydad Athletic Club respectively.

Aggregate winners this weekend will reach the semifinals scheduled next May, with the Holy Grail of African club football at stake.

Esperance (Tunisia) – Zamalek (Egypt) (1-3)

(Friday 06.03.2020 - 19:00 GMT, Rades)

Past two seasons champions Esperance will fight to reverse a recent jinx that saw them losing to Zamalek twice with the same score in the span of 14 days. Despite having an early lead in Cairo, the “Blood and Gold” side conceded three goals as “The White Knights” managed a remarkable comeback, to repeat the result they achieved in Doha two weeks earlier to grab the 2020 Total CAF Super Cup.

Esperance will welcome back influential striker Taha Yassine Khneissi and defender Abdelkader Badrane who missed the first leg through injury. Meanwhile defender Ilyes Chetti who was substituted early in the first leg is not available. On the other hand, Zamalek retrieved services of forward Youssef Ibrahim “Obama” who also missed their home victory last weekend.

Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) – Al Ahly (Egypt) (0-2)

(Saturday 07.03.2020 - 13:00 GMT, Pretoria)

Recent nightmare will haunt record champions Al Ahly when they head to the Loftus Road stadium in Pretoria this Saturday. Last season “The Red Devils” had their worst ever CAF defeat at the same ground and in the same stage.

But this time, Al Ahly is heading to Pretoria with two unanswered goals in their bags. It’s an uphill to climb for “The Brazilians”, as Sundowns Coach Pitso Mosimane admitted earlier this week. He will have to watch out for Ahly’s talisman Ali Maaloul who was behind his side’s brace last weekend, while hoping his side could find more spaces than they rarely did in the first leg.

TP Mazembe (DR Congo) – Raja Casablanca (Morocco) (0-2)

(Saturday 07.03.2020 - 13:00 GMT, Lubumbashi)

Two headed goals handed Raja’s “Green Eagles” a precious home victory last weekend, and now they head to Lubumbashi to defend this advantage against five time champions TP Mazembe. “The Ravens” have won all their home games this campaign, a feat they will try to replicate this weekend, knowing they need to watch out for an away goal that could complicate their mission.

“It’s not an easy mission, but still not impossible”, Mazembe Coach Pamphile Mihayo said. “Raja scored twice at home, we can score even more at our home”.

Raja Coach Jamal Sellami looked upbeat that his side could reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 15 years. “We won nothing yet, but we will do everything to come back home with the semis ticket”, the former Raja midfielder remarked.

Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) – Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) (0-2)

(Saturday 07.03.2020 - 19:00 GMT, Rades)

It won’t be a “Welcome back” for Wydad coach Juan Carlos Garrido who is returning to Rades less than a month after being sacked from his job at the helm of Etoile du Sahel. Garrido led Wydad to a home 2-0 victory over his former employers in his very first mission with the Moroccan giants, and will now seek to defend this advantage against a side he know very well.

His successor at Etoile, former defender Kais Zouaghi is facing a tough mission, but is counting on his boys experience that saw them overturning a similar situation earlier this season. Etoile lost 2-0 to Ghana’s Asante Kotoko in the first round first leg, but managed a 3-0 comeback at home to reach the group stage. They will be just happy to emulate that once again.