CAF: Group stages end in Champions League; ConFed Cup Review
With the identity of all four semi-finalists known the final matchday in the CAF Champions League group stages was a little anti-climatic but there were still points to play for as teams jostled either for the leadership of the group or to avoid the wooden spoon. The situation was different in the CAF Confederation Cup, however, as all teams were involved in their fourth matches of the group stage this weekend with some very interesting results. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews this weekend’s action.
Group A was topped by Tunisians Espérance by two points from defending African champions TP Mazembe who also qualify from the group. Espérance had Oussama Darragi to thank for claiming all three points in their away match at Dynamos FC of Zimbabwe, his 23rd minute goal giving Espérance all three points and the group leadership. TP Mazembe could only muster a goalless draw in their final match away to Algerians ES Sétif whose consolation was that they finished third and, thus, avoided the group’s wooden spoon. Espérance claimed 13 points from six games with TP Mazembe two points further behind.
Group B winners JS Kabylie of Algeria had already been assured of the group leadership after Matchday 5 as they enjoyed a five point gap between themselves and second place Al Ahly. The Algerian champions were away to Nigerians Heartland FC in their final game and they went away with a 1-1 draw which preserved their unbeaten record at this stage of the competition. Al Ahly, on the other hand, were on the receiving end of a 4-2 defeat from compatriots Ismaily FC but still finished two points further ahead in the standings. The semi-final draw sees title holders TP Mazembe play JS Kabylie and record champions Al Ahly face off against Espérance and both legs will be played on the weekends of October 1-3 and October 15-17, offical times still be finalized.
In the CAF Confederation Cup the only suspense in Group A is which one from Ittihad and Al Hilal will finish top of the group. Djoliba FC, who are in third place are five points behind both teams with two games to play and have little chance of catching either or both teams up in the standings. Djoliba FC did, at least, put the celebrations of their Matchday 4 opponents Al Hilal on hold with a 2-0 win on Sunday. Ittihad’s 3-1 win over Niger’s ASFAN on Saturday means that they along with Ittihad are on equal points with each team holding a record of 3-0-1 in the group phase so far. In Group B FUS Rabat and CS Sfaxien lead the way following their Matchday 4 wins over Haras El Hadood and Zanaco FC respectively. FUS Rabat top the standings with nine points from four games after they came from behind in their away clash to Egyptians Haras by two goals to one. CS Sfaxien, two time winners of this competition, remain on course to reach the last four following their 2-1 win at home to third place Zanaco, the Zambian team who lie in third place just three points further back.