CAF Champions League

Exciting duels await in CAF Champions League semis

Esperance and Al Ahly renew rivalry in CAF CL semi-finals. Photo | Reuters
Esperance and Al Ahly renew rivalry in CAF CL semi-finals. Photo | Reuters


There are exciting duels awaiting in the semi-final of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League, following the conclusion of the quarter final fixtures...

Record champions Al Ahly have booked an exciting North African derby against Esperance while holders Wydad Athletic Club will take on South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns in what has now been a mouth-watering North vs South derby.

Ahly progressed to the last four after edging out Morocco’s Raja Club Athletic. The two sides drew 0-0 in Casablanca, with Ahly surviving a barrage of attacks from Raja including a missed penalty.

It was the 2-0 first leg result in Cairo last weekend that propelled Ahly, as they remain on course for a record extending 11th African title.

Esperance earned a spot to their third semi-final in six seasons after edging out Algeria’s JS Kabylie 2-1 on aggregate. Esperance were eliminated by an Algerian team, ES Setif, at the same stage last season, but went one better this time.

They played to a 1-1 draw in the return fixture against Kabylie, but having won the first leg 1-0 last weekend, they earned their qualification.

Esperance and Ahly most recently met at the same stage of the competition, in the 2020-21 season, where Ahly won 4-0 on aggregate.

In the second semi, holders Wydad needed penalties to progress to the last eight. They had beaten Tanzania’s Simba 1-0 in Casablanca to tie the aggregate score at 1-1 having lost by the same margin in Dar es Salaam the previous weekend.

They come up against favorites Sundowns, who thrashed Algeria’s CR Belouizdad 6-2 on aggregate to progress. They came from a goal down to win the return tie 2-1 in Pretoria, adding up to their 4-1 victory in Algiers the previous weekend.

Sundowns have made it into the semi-finals for the first time since the 2018-19 season. They have had three quarter final eliminations since.

They faced Wydad in the final when they clinched their first title in 2016, winning 3-0 in the first leg at home and losing the return fixture 1-0 in Casablanca.

The two sides also clashed in the same stage when Sundowns last reached the semis in the 2018-19 season. Wydad won the tie 2-1 on aggregate, having won the first leg in Casablanca and drawn the return fixture 0-0 away from home.

The first leg matches will be played on May 12, with the return ties a week later. Who will blink first this season?