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CAF Champions League

Rangers join Rivers United in Champions League Crash

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Enugu Rangers followed Rivers United in crashing out of the CAF Champions League on Sunday after struggling to a 2-1 defeat of Zamalek of Egypt at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu.  Aggregate score line of 3-5 in favour of the Egyptians means that Enugu Rangers have dropped into play-off for a place in the CAF Confederation Cup.

The exit of the duo form the Champions League may affect the number of teams Nigeria will register next year.

Zamalek have also added the Enugu war loads to the list of causalities that the Egyptian club has eliminated from continental championship. Before Sunday’s elimination of Enugu Rangers, Zamalek had twice overcome Shooting Stars in 1984 and 1997, Super Stores in 1993, Kwara United in 1999 and Enyimba in 2016.

The Egyptians, apparently aware that the home side would put up an attacking strategy from the beginning tried to curtail the early incursion of Enugu Rangers. It was almost at the dot of half time that Rangers were able to pull a goal back through Tope Olusesi.

With just two more goals needed to cancel out the Egyptians, Rangers again began the second half pressing to increase the tally.

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Zamalek goalkeeper Mahmoud Abdel Rahim, who is better known as Genesh, pulled off a double save after restart as Rangers continued their dominance.

With his side trailing, Mohammed Helmy, the Zamalek coach, introduced striker Bassem Morsy in the 62nd minute as the visitors looked to equalize. The Egypt international made an immediate impact as he scored to level matters against Rangers eight minutes later.

However, Rangers pushed forward in search of another goal in order to restore their lead and they were awarded a penalty with fifteen minutes left on the clock. Godwin Aguda then stepped up and first past Genesh to make it 2-1 to Rangers.

But Zamalek stood firm at the back in the dying minutes and the hosts won 2-1. Also on Sunday, the defending champions, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo suffered a shock exit from the competition losing on the away-goals ruling to Zimbabwe’s CAPS United in Harare.

Mazembe were under pressure after being held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-32 tie at home in Lubumbashi last weekend.

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The away-goal proved to be crucial for CAPS United who withstood the pressure from Mazembe in the second leg in Harare, earning a 0-0 draw. Mazembe, won the African Champions League in 2015, were left frustrated by the Zimbabwean underdogs on Sunday in their search for a goal.

As in the first leg in Lubumbashi, CAPS United’s goalkeeper, Edmore Sibanda, stood firm to deny the DR Congo giants a chance to score. It means Mazembe now drop into the African Confederation Cup play-off round, where they will look to defend the title they won in 2016.

The result is a huge accomplishment for CAPS United of Zimbabwe who have returned to the African Champions League after an 11-year absence. They will now enter the group phase of the tournament which has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs.

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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CAF Champions League

Ahly crowned champions of Africa for record-extending 12th title

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Ahly’s Mohamed Elshenawy holds aloft the CAF Champions League trophy after a 1-0 defeat of Tunisia’s Esperance at the Cairo International Stadium.

The Egyptians have again scored a remarkable double, winning both the CAF Confederation Cup and the CAF Champions League.

Serial champions, Al Ahly have once again reigned supreme as kings of African club football, following their CAF Champions League final 1-0 win over Tunisia’s Esperance Sportive de Tunis at a packed to the rafters Cairo International Stadium on Saturday evening.

Their victory follows that of their rival Cairo club, Zamalek who the week before won the CAF Confederation Cup. Thus, the Super Cup will be an all-Cairo and Egypt tussle.

Saturday’s win was the Al Ahly’s  12th  CAF Champions League title and the fourth time they are lifting the continent’s most prestigious title in succession – a feat that rubber stamps their authority as African football club kings.

The win on Saturday also marks 20  CAF Champions League matches without a loss for the champions. They also finish the campaign with the best defensive record, with just a single goal conceded in this season.

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Following a goalless stalemate in Rades last week, the Egyptians with the backing of a highly vocal Cairo International Stadium went into the clash with a slight advantage over the four-time African champions who have been in desperate search for an elusive fifth title since 2019.

Ahly’s only goal of the match came courtesy of an unfortunate own goal by Roger Aholou after a header by Ramy Moustafa came off the inside of defender’s leg to beat young goalkeeper, Amenallah Memmiche in the 4th minute.

Played at an electrifying pace under the Cairo stars, both sides had an equal go at each other throughout the encounter, with attack after attack being thwarted by equally solid defending.

A glaring chance for Esperance came in the 52nd minute when TKA’s low drive almost caught Mostafa Shobeir off guard, who was fortunate to see the strike go inches wide.

The Tunisians, with momentum on their side almost levelled matters just after the hour mark after the Brazilian duo of Yan Sasse and Rodrigo Silva concluded with Sasse striking a beautiful curler that went just wide off target.

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Ahly almost doubled their lead when Emam Ashour dribbled past two defenders to unleash a potent strike that was fisted away by the keeper.

Coming on to bring in his experience, the ever-green Afsha almost made it two in the 87th minute with a well taken free kick that came off the bar in what could have been a wonder strike by the marksman.

It eventually ended 1-0 in favour of the club of the century who were crowned champions of Africa once again in front of their home fans in Cairo.

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CAF Champions League

CAF Champions League Final in Cairo sold out in two hours!

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The CAF Champions League second leg Final between Al Ahly and Espérance Sportive de Tunis in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday 25 May 2024 was sold out in two hours paving a way for what is expected to be a thrilling finale between two of Africa’s biggest Clubs.

The match will kick off at 20h00 in Cairo (17h00 GMT).

The huge demand for the match underscores the ever growing interest in African Club Football and has necessitated CAF together with the Host Club, Al Ahly to strengthen Safety and Security plans in and around the Cairo International Stadium.

Over 90 countries will watch the Final in different parts of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, MENA, Europe, America and South Pacific. 

Football supporters from all over the world will be able to watch the final in their language and on several CAF platforms.

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Leading the global broadcasters are CAF’s traditional partners: beIN Sport (MENA, Europe, America, South Pacific), Canal+ and New World TV.

In Africa, a number of free-to-air broadcasters will show the Final including SABC, Azam Media, AfroSport and many others.

Al Ahly are unbeaten in their last 19 CAF Champions League matches (W12 D7), keeping 16 clean sheets and conceding just three goals.

Espérance Sportive de Tunis are unbeaten in their last five CAF Champions League knockout round matches without conceding (W2 D3); they last kept six consecutive clean sheets in such matches in October 2012.

Espérance Sportive de Tunis will be looking to win the competition for the first time since 2019, when they beat Wydad AC to secure a second consecutive title.

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Al Ahly will be looking to make it 11 successes for Egyptian sides in the CAF Champions League final (more than twice as many as other nation), while Espérance Sportive de Tunis can secure Tunisia their fifth success in the competition, which will be the outright second-most.

For the final, fans can start engaging and being a part of the ongoing conversation using #TotalEnergiesCAFCL.

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CAF Champions League

BREAKING: CAF adopts Yoruba name, “Ola” for official match ball!

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Confederation of African Football, CAF, has adopted a Nigerian language name of its official match ball for the interclubs competitions. Ahead of this weekend’s blockbuster line-up that sees Africa’s top clubs battle for  CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League top honours, the confederation and its matchball producers, PUMA have unveiled a new match ball called “OLA.”

 In a press statement, CAF explains that “OLA,” means “wealth,” “honour,” and “respect” in Yoruba, and “rise” and “success” in Arabic. It explained that the name was chosen to symbolize the dynamic and energetic nature of African football.

Embodying the spirit of Africa, Ola’s design is inspired by the continent’s vibrant colours, art, and traditions.

OLA will be used this weekend – starting in Tunis when Espérance Sportive de Tunis hosts Al Ahly of Egypt in the first leg of the  CAF Champions League Final and on Sunday when Zamalek hosts RS Berkane in the second leg of the  CAF Confederation Cup final at the Cairo International Stadium. 

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