CAF: Champions Mazembe scrape through to group stages
Defending African champions TP Mazembe were just fifteen minutes away from elimination in the third qualifying round of the 2011 CAF Champions League. They managed to dig themselves out of a hole against Moroccans Wydad Casablanca, who held a 1-0 lead from the first leg, thanks to strikes from Patou Kabangu and Hughes Bedi Mbenza. The latter’s goal came in second half stoppage time and the win ensured that Mazembe reached the group stages of the tournament for the fourth tournament in a row and keeps up the Lumbumbashi based club’s hopes of a third consecutive title.
Wydad’s local rivals Raja Casablanca, on the other hand, enjoyed success in their fixture against Ivorians ASEC Mimosas, the game being played over just one leg due to the political instability affecting the Ivory Coast at the moment. Raja’s Mohsine Moutouali restored parity in the 90th minute of the game after ASEC’s Adama Bakayoko had given his team the lead midway through the second half. Raja held their nerve in the subsequent penalty shoot out and progressed to the group stages with a 100% success rate having scored all of their penalty kicks in a 5-4 shoot-out win. Record champions Al Ahly have also reached the group stages following their slender 1-0 aggregate success over Zambians ZESCO United with Mohamed Barakat’s 66th minute goal in the second leg proving to be the difference between the two sides.
The other successful teams included Nigeria’s Enyimba, who overcame Libya’s Al-Ittihad 1-0 in another game reduced to a single fixture, Algerian outfit MC Alger, ST Espérance (Tunisia) and Al-Hilal Omdurman (Sudan). Algerians ES Sétif and Cameroon’s Coton Sport, with the latter holding a 4-1 lead from the first leg, will be completed on May 13th. The losing teams from this stage of the CAF Champions League will feature in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup Play-Off round and the draws for both of these tournaments will be made on May 15th.