Esperance Fail To Win Third Consecutive CAF Champions League Title

Moroccan referee Redouane Jiyed (C-R) presents a red card to an Esperance’s midfielder Mohamed Ben Romdhane (C-L) during the first leg of the CAF Champions League Quarter-final football match between Egypt’s Zamalek and Tunisia’s Esperance at the Cairo International Stadium in the capital on February 28, 2020.
Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

Tunisian club Esperance this weekend became the latest victims of a jinx that has prevented any club winning the CAF Champions League three consecutive times.

Zamalek of Egypt defeated the 2018 and 2019 trophy-holders 3-2 on aggregate in a quarter-final after losing the second leg 1-0 in Tunis Friday.

Esperance joined Al Ahly of Egypt and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo (twice each) and Enyimba of Nigeria as back-to-back title winners who could not complete a treble.

The Tunisians, who also lost to Zamalek in the one-off CAF Super Cup match last month, were hit by a series of suspensions before the second leg of the Champions League clash.

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Coach Moine Chaabani and his deputy, Mejdi Traoui, were banned for four matches and fined for aggressive behaviour, offensive language and threats after a 3-1 first-leg loss in Cairo.

Captain and center-back Khalil Chemmam received a six-match ban and a $40,000 (35,500 euro) fine for spitting at the Moroccan match officials and using offensive language.

Midfielder Abdelraouf Benguit got a four-match suspension and a $20,000 fine for using offensive language against the referees.

Besides the individual sanctions, Esperance were fined $10,000 because their supporters threw flares at the Cairo International Stadium.

Failed CAF Champions League treble bids:

1969

Mazembe (lost 5-3 on aggregate to Ismailia of Egypt in final)

2005

Enyimba (eliminated after finishing third in Group A)

2007

Ahly (lost 3-1 on aggregate to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in final)

2011

Mazembe (disqualified after round of 32 for fielding ineligible player)

2014

Ahly (lost 4-2 on aggregate to Al Ahly Benghazi of Libya in round of 16)

2020

Esperance (lost 3-2 on aggregate to Zamalek of Egypt in quarter-finals)

AFP

CAF Confederation Cup: Zamalek’s Win End 16-Year African Trophy Drought

Egypt’s Zamalek players celebrate with the trophy after they won the CAF Confederation Cup final football match between Egypt’s Zamalek and Morocco’s RSB Berkane at Borg El Arab Stadium near Alexandria on May 26, 2019.
Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

Brilliant penalties enabled Zamalek Sporting Club of Egypt to win the CAF Confederation Cup final near Alexandria Monday and end a 16-year African trophy drought.

Mahmoud Alaa converted a 55th-minute VAR spot-kick to give Zamalek a 1-0 second-leg win over Renaissance Sportive Berkane of Morocco and leave the teams tied at 1-1 on aggregate.

With no extra-time in CAF club matches, the final went to a shootout and Zamalek converted all five penalties to win 5-3 before a near-capacity crowd in the 86,000-seat stadium.

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The regular-time penalty and those in the shootout were all expertly taken, with their power and placement giving Berkane goalkeeper Abdelali Mhamdi no chance.

Success came as a massive relief to the Cairo-based club, who play some fixtures at the Borg El Arab Stadium almost 200 kilometres (114 miles) north-west of the capital for security reasons.

After winning nine CAF titles between 1984 and 2003, Zamalek failed to add another until the victory over Berkane in a match that kicked off late Sunday and stretched into Monday.

There was a mix of relief and joy for the predominantly Zamalek-supporting crowd after the shootout as they became the third most successful club in CAF competitions with 10 titles.

Al Ahly, Cairo neighbours of Zamalek and their greatest rivals for more than a century, have won 19 African titles and TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo 11.

It was the fourth time in 16 finals that a shootout decided the outcome with Hearts of Oak of Ghana, Stade Malien of Mali and MAS Fes of Morocco winning finals on penalties.

Second Swiss Winner

Zamalek coach and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross became the second Swiss handler to lift the Confederation Cup after Michel Decastel in 2007 with a Tunisian club.

The second leg result in Alexandria could have been different had Hamdi Laachir not squandered a clearcut early chance for Berkane, blazing over from close range.

Soon after, Zamalek came close to cancelling the 1-0 lead the Moroccans took into the return match when a Youssef ‘Obama’ Ibrahim lob beat the goalkeeper but went over the bar.

The Ethiopian referee initially ignored Zamalek penalty appeals early in the second half, but was persuaded by players to review a goalmouth incident and ruled that Najji Larbi handled.

Alaa blasted the penalty into the net, setting up a tense second half with Berkane sensing that if they scored an away goal, they would almost certainly win their first CAF final.

But an experienced Zamalek defence, backed by 31-year-old goalkeeper Mahmoud ‘Gennesh’ Abdel Rahim, held firm to force the penalty shootout.

Substitute Khalid Boutaib scored from the first spot-kick for Zamalek, and then Laachir fired embarrassingly wide to immediately put Berkane on the back foot.

It proved a crucial miss as Alaa, Abdallah Gomaa, Youssef Ibrahim, and substitute Ayman Sayed scored for the Egyptian White Knights to finally end their African title jinx.

Success for Zamalek confirmed the North African dominance of the Confederation Cup — the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League — with 11 winning clubs coming from the region.

AFP

Rangers, Rivers United Get Confederation Cup Opponent

Federation Cup, enugu rangers, Rangers, Imama Amapakabo, NPFLRangers International and Rivers United, have been drawn in the last 16 of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champion, Rangers, were drawn against Zesco United of Zambia.

The club crashed out of the Champions League after losing to Zamalek 5-3 on aggregate.

Rivers United would face Rayon Sports of Rwanda, following their drop to the second tier having lost to Al-Merrikh 4-3 on aggregate.

The first leg would be played on April 7 and 9, while the return leg is scheduled for April 14 and 16.

Enugu Rangers Crash Out Of CAF Champions League

Enugu Rangers Crash Out Of CAF Champions LeagueNigeria’s remaining representative at the 2017 CAF Champions League, Rangers International of Enugu have crashed out of the competition.

The Nigeria Professional Football League champions defeated Egypt’s Zamalek 2-1 with goals from Tope Oluseni and Godwin Aguda at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.

However, it was not enough to see Rangers through as they bowed out of the continent’s biggest club competition 5-3 on goals aggregate.

Both Rangers and Rivers United have slipped to the CAF Confederation Cup play-off round.

Enugu Rangers, Rivers United Advance In CAF Champions League

Federation Cup, enugu rangers, Rangers, Imama Amapakabo, NPFLTwo of Nigeria’s representatives at the CAF Champions League, Enugu Rangers and Rivers United, are through to the first round of the competition.

Rangers on Sunday evening held visiting J.S Saoura of Algeria to a goalless draw to advance on the away goal rule.

The Nigerian southeast-based club had held their visitors to a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

The Nigeria Professional Football League defending champions will face Egyptian side, Zamalek in the next round.

Similarly, Rivers United edged out Mali’s A.S Real Bamako 4-0 to advance on a four zero aggregate.

The Nigerian said will face Sudanese club, Al-Marrikh in the first round of the competition.

Militants Attack Church And Police In Egypt

egypt-1Islamist militants hit Egypt’s two largest cities on Sunday with a bombing in Cairo and an attack on a church in Alexandria, leaving one policeman dead and seven people wounded, security sources said.

In a separate incident, the leader of a militant group that has targeted police and soldiers around the capital was killed in a fire-fight with security forces early on Sunday, the interior ministry said.

Egypt is facing an insurgency based in North Sinai that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since the army toppled Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Most militant attacks have taken place in the Sinai Peninsula, a remote but strategic region bordering Gaza, Israel and the Suez Canal. Smaller-scale bombings have become increasingly common in Cairo and other cities.

A bomb explosion on a bridge leading to the upscale Cairo district of Zamalek, which hosts many embassies, killed one policeman, the interior ministry said. Two more officers and a civilian were injured.

According to the Interior Ministry and Security sources, the policeman was shot dead during an exchange of fire at an apartment in Giza, near Cairo.

The force of the bomb, which the sources said was planted in or near a car, injured several more people on the May15 Bridge.

On Saturday, two bombs exploded near a police station in the residential Imbaba district across the Nile River from Zamalek, causing no casualties.

England’s Wembley to host Africa’s biggest derby

Al Ahly and Zamalek have been approved to play their friendly derby in Wembley Stadium England next April reports SuperSport.

Zamalek spokesman Ali Abou Al Nagaa confirmed this and said that the board and Technical staff of both teams had agreed to the deal

The game will take place on the 22nd of April and will honor the victims of the Port Said disaster.

Zamalek Chairman Mamdouh Abbas had announced this previously.

Up to 1,000 people were injured and 74 killed after supporters of the Cairo club were set upon at the end of a match between Al Ahly and al-Masry on February 1 in Port Said.