Kashiwa Reysol’s FIFA Club World Cup dream ended today at the hands of South American champions Santos FC. Neymar was amongst the goals for the Brazilians as they claimed a 3-1 win against the J-League champions whilst earlier in the day North and Central American champions Monterrey CF won the 5th/6th place play-off, getting the better of African champions Espérance Tunis by the odd goal in five.
Santos, in their first game of the new look Club World Cup, may have won the game against their hosts but Kashiwa continued to do themselves proud in this competition. Following earlier defeats of Auckland City and Monterrey, it was always going to prove tough to jump the final hurdle into the final but Kashiwa certainly weren’t overawed. Nonetheless Santos did what they had to do in a game which could prove to be a useful workout ahead of a potential final against FC Barcelona.
Quality strikes from Neymar and Borges gave Santos a two goal lead at the break but Hiroki Sakai reduced the arrears ten minutes into the second half to provide Kashiwa with a ray of hope. The hosts, however, would suffer a further setback in the 63rd minute when Danilo restored Santos’ two goal lead which they would preserve for the remainder of the game. Santos will now face FC Barcelona or, in the event of a massive shock, Asian champions Al Sadd in Sunday’s final and hope to claim a first world title since their second Intercontinental Cup win in 1963.
The day’s other game saw Monterrey CF restore some pride in the 5th/6th play-off against Espérance Tunis in a game which saw plenty of goals. Espérance, who controversially lost their quarter-final against Al Sadd, went ahead after half an hour to a Yannick N’Djeng goal only to see Monterrey turn the match on its head just before half-time with Hiram Mier and Aldo de Nigris getting on the score sheet.
Monterrey carried on where they left off in the second half with Jesus Zavala’s close range header increasing their lead to two goals but the Tunisians weren’t finished and made it a tight finish when Khaled Mouelhi scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. However the Mexicans held out to ensure that they would chalk up a maiden victory in this tournament and they will hope, along with their African counterparts, to win their respective continental titles once more in 2012 and have another shot at world glory in Japan next year.
Kashiwa Reysol and Al Sadd have booked their semi-final places in the FIFA Club World Cup following hard fought victories over Monterrey CF and Esperance Tunis respectively.
Kashiwa, representing the host nation Japan as the 2011 J-League champions, needed a penalty shoot-out to get past North and Central American champions Monterrey after the two teams had played out a 1-1 draw. Leandro Domingues gave Kashiwa the lead in the 53rd minute only to see Humberto Suazo restore parity just five minutes later and the rest of the game proved frustrating for both sides as neither team could kill off their opponents. In the shoot-out Ryohei Hayashi converted the crucial final kick as Kashiwa went through 4-3 and secured themselves a meeting with South American champions Santos FC in the final four.
Controversy reigned in the other semi-final between African champions Esperance Tunis and Asian Champions League holders Al Sadd. Khalfan Ibrahim and Abdullah Koni had given Al Sadd a two goal lead by the 50th minute but Oussama Darragi pulled one back on the hour mark. However the Tunisians had two goals controversially ruled out for offside, decisions which so enraged one supporter who ran on to the pitch. Al Sadd, who are based in Qatar, now look ahead to a semi-final clash with European champions FC Barcelona who will be in fine mood following a 3-1 win against Real Madrid in last night’s El Clásico.
Real Madrid took the lead after just 22 seconds as Karim Benzema took advantage of some uncharacteristic woeful defending by Barcelona only for the visitors to equalize on the half hour mark through Alexis Sanchez. Further goals in the second half from Xavi and Cesc Fabregas helped secure the three points for Barcelona who can go into the FIFA Club World Cup knowing that their arch rivals are not going to be so far ahead when they come back from Japan. Had Real Madrid won last night they would’ve been six points clear with a game in hand. Following last night’s result, however, Barcelona are now on the same points but Madrid, nonetheless, still have the advantage of an extra game to play.
Tunisian giants Espérance will make their maiden appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup following their second CAF Champions League title win, their first such title for seventeen years, which was achieved with a 1-0 aggregate victory over Moroccans WAC Casablanca in the final. Should the Tunis based side overcome the challenge of Asian champions Al Sadd in the quarter-finals, a glamour tie against UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona will be on the cards for one of Africa’s most famous clubs.
Espérance began their successful 2011 CAF Champions League campaign by knocking out ASPAC FC from Benin 5-2 on aggregate before Senegal’s Diaraf FC were put to the sword with a 6-0 drubbing. The 24-time Tunisian champions then managed to top their CAF Champions League group ahead of WAC Casablanca, MC Alger and record champions Al Ahly Cairo with a record of two wins and four draws from their six games. Espérance, along with WAC, both went through to the semi-finals of the competition and were able to dispose of Al-Hilal Omdurman and Enyimba FC in their respective matches to set up a showpiece two-legged meeting in the final. In a tight contest the first leg, played in Casablanca, ended up as a goalless stalemate and the return fixture in Tunis was settled by just the one goal which came from Harrison Afful in the 20th minute. The narrow 1-0 aggregate win gave Espérance a long-awaited second African crown and the chance to show off their talents in Japan this year.
Since winning the CAF Champions League in November a new domestic league season has begun in Tunisia with Espérance suffering a mixed bag of results. They opened their 2011-12 Tunisian league account with a 1-1 draw away to EGS Gafsa before recording their first win with a 3-0 score line over Monastir. Their most recent league game saw them lose 2-1 to early season pacesetters Bizertin which leaves Espérance in eighth place of the sixteen team league with just four points to show for their efforts. The only good thing about the timing of their oncoming FIFA Club World Cup quarter-final against Al Sadd is that the Qatari outfit is also in poor domestic form having lost their last two matches in the Stars League. With neither side on a high ahead of their match it is too close to call a winner but, if one thing is certain, it is that both sides will give their all in the hope of meeting the European champions in the semi-finals.
ESPERANCE TUNIS v WAC CASABLANCA, FINAL 2ND LEG GOAL
ESPERANCE TUNIS – CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNING CELEBRATIONS
Following a 5-0 victory in the first leg of this year’s final it was no surprise to see defending CAF Champions League holders TP Mazembe lift the trophy for a second consecutive running. Their 1-1 draw away at Tunisian giants Espérance in yesterday’s second leg gave the Congan side their fourth title overall in African football’s showpiece tournament.
Espérance gave their fans something to shout about in the 23rd minute of the second leg when Harrison Afful gave the Tunis based side the lead and reduced the aggregate score to 5-1. TP Mazembe, however, were always comfortable knowing that they had such a substantial lead already to their credit and they restored parity in the 69th minute when Kanda A Mukok tucked home the equalizing score on the night, increasing the overall score to 6-1.
Earlier in the day Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma won the Asian equivalent of this competition and TP Mazembe’s triumph finally confirmed the line-up for this year’s FIFA Club World Cup which takes place in the United Arab Emirates next month. The other teams competing will be Internazionale FC (Europe), Internacional (South America), Pachuca (North America), Hekari United (Oceania) and Al-Wahda (United Arab Emirates champions). TP Mazembe will play Mexican side Pachuca in the quarter-final stage on December 10th.
WATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
Defending African champions TP Mazembe have already as good as won the CAF Champions League for a second successive year, and fourth title overall, following their 5-0 demolition of Tunisian champions Espérance.
In an amazing first leg to this year’s CAF Champions League final the Congolese side took to the field at their home Stade de la Kenya in the town of Lubumbashi and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Although it has to be said that the first goal from Ndandu Kasongo had a touch of controversy about it as it was debateable whether the ball had crossed the line from his 18th minute header but the referee gave the goal and TP Mazembe didn’t look back. The Tunisians’ cause wasn’t helped when Mohamed Ben Masour was sent off just six minutes later for an off-the-ball incident. Following all of the incidents that had befallen them Espérance very nearly made it in at the break with a mere one goal deficit but a penalty given in first half stoppage time to the home side was tucked away by Dioko Kaluyituka and the game was fast running away from the Tunis side. The second half saw an inevitable avalanche of chances from TP Mazembe whose superior numbers on the field was turned into a vastly superior number of goals as Given Singuluma scored twice just before the hour mark and Kasongo scored his second of the game with sixteen minutes to go.
As it happens the only other time that a team took a five goal advantage into the second leg of the final happened in 1968 after Togo’s Étoile Filante de Lomé lost to a Congolese team called TP Englebert, now known to all as TP Mazembe, in the second win of a back-to-back success. It looks like history is going to repeat itself following the second leg of the 2010 CAF Champions League final to be played in Tunis on November 13th.
WATCH TP MAZEMBE v ESPERANCE HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
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.
The second round of the CAF Champions League has been completed this weekend and the eight teams who have qualified from this section look forward to the oncoming group stage. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reports on the winners and losers from the second round of Africa’s elite club competition and highlights the latest developments in the Confederation Cup, Africa’s equivalent of the UEFA Europa League or Copa Sudamericana.
On Friday night three teams were victorious in their Round of 16 matches. Zimbabweans Dynamos F.C. had a comfortable passage following their first leg 4-1 victory against Botswana’s Gaborone United by securing a goalless draw in the return fixture to become the first team through to the last eight. Algerian champions ES Sétif were made to work for their place having scraped through with a 3-2 aggregate win over Zambians Zanaco F.C. Another North African team, Espérance of Tunisia, made it through after they easily negotiated their way past Sudanese Al-Merreikh with a 4-0 aggregate win. On Sunday defending champions TP Mazembe secured their passage to the group stage with a 3-0 second leg win over Malians Djoliba, going through 4-0 overall. Algerians JS Kabylie were grateful to go through 3-2 on aggregate against Angolans Atlético Petróleos while Heartlands FC from Nigeria beat South African champions SuperSport United 4-2 on aggregate. The two Egyptian teams in the tournament, Al Ahly and Ismaily, clinched the remaining two berths in the last eight with aggregate victories over Ittihad and Al-Hilal Omdurman respectively. The eight winners will be drawn into two groups of four teams in the lucrative group stage whilst the eight losing teams from this round will be rewarded with the consolation prize of a place in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The sixteen teams remaining in the CAF Confederation Cup will play a further knockout round before they indulge in a group stage format similar to that in the main competition. Defending champions Stade Malien were knocked out of this year’s tournament having succumbed to a 2-0 aggregate defeat by Moroccans FUS Rabat. The team from the Moroccan capital took a two goal first leg lead into the return fixture and were able to hold on comfortably in order to progress to the next stage. Egyptians Haras El Hodood were the big winners in the second round having defeated Tanzanians Simba F.C. by six goals to three. Two-time former champions CS Sfaxien squeezed through past Egyptians Petrojet F.C. by a 2-1 scoreline whilst Algerian outfit CR Belouizdad’s hopes of claiming a first continental trophy were increased after they overturned a 1-0 first leg defeat with a 2-0 win in the second leg against Sudanese Amal Atbara. In the remaining games ASFAN F.C. (Niger), Primeiro de Agosto (Angola) and CAPS United (Zimbabwe) ensured aggregate wins against DC Motema Pembe (DR Congo), Cotonsport (Cameroun) and Warri Wolves (Nigeria) respectively while Nigerians Enyimba clawed back a 3-0 first leg deficit against AS Vita Club (DR Congo) to force extra-time and a penalty shoot-out in which they prevailed 9-8 from spot kicks.