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Five AFCON 2023 Stars Ready To Illuminate CAF Champions League –

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Five AFCON 2023 Stars Ready To Illuminate CAF Champions League -

The dust has barely settled on the electrifying Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, but the football fervour continues unabated as the CAF Champions League resumes action this weekend. 

With the continent still buzzing from the AFCON spectacle in Cote d’Ivoire, fans eagerly anticipate seeing their favourite stars transition from international glory to club success.

Among the plethora of talent showcased at AFCON 2023, several players plying their trade on the continent stood out with their exceptional performances – despite the tournament being dominated by Europe-based players – leaving an indelible mark on the tournament.

As the CAF Champions League recommences, attention turns to these standout performers, poised to carry their momentum into club competition.

Here are the top five players from the  AFCON 2023 set to light up the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League:

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  1. Ronwen Williams (GK) – Mamelodi Sundowns & South Africa

The hero of South Africa’s bronze medal triumph, Ronwen Williams, proved his mettle between the sticks with breathtaking saves throughout AFCON 2023. As captain of both Mamelodi Sundowns and the South Africa national team, Williams’ commanding presence and shot-stopping prowess earned him the title of the tournament’s best goalkeeper. His heroics, notably in the quarter-finals penalty shootout against Cape Verde, cemented his status as one of Africa’s premier goalkeepers.

  1. Teboho Mokoena (MF) – Mamelodi Sundowns & South Africa

Teboho Mokoena’s midfield mastery was instrumental in South Africa’s AFCON journey, earning him a coveted spot in the tournament’s Best XI. The Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder showcased his versatility, contributing both defensively and offensively with flair and finesse. His highlight moment, a sublime free-kick in South Africa’s stunning victory over Morocco, underscored his importance to both club and country.

  1. Henock Inonga (DF) – Simba SC & DR Congo

Forming a formidable defensive partnership for DR Congo, Henock Inonga’s commanding presence at the back was instrumental in the Leopards’ fourth-place finish at AFCON 2023. Representing Simba SC at the club level, Inonga’s solid performances showcased his ability to thwart opposition attacks and marshal his defensive line with authority. His leadership and defensive nous will be crucial assets as Simba SC resumes their African Champions League campaign.

  1. Gilberto Deivi Miguel (FW) – Petro Atletico & Angola

Gilberto Deivi Miguel’s attacking flair shone bright for Angola at AFCON 2023, despite their quarter-final exit. The Petro Atletico forward showcased his predatory instincts and offensive prowess, providing a constant threat to opposition defenses. At just 22 years old, Miguel’s potential is limitless, and his performances at both club and international level mark him as one to watch in the African Champions League.

  1. Djigui Diarra (GK) – Young Africans & Mali

As the custodian of Mali’s goal, Djigui Diarra’s shot-stopping heroics were pivotal in guiding the Malian Eagles to the quarter-finals of AFCON 2023. Representing Young Africans at the club level, Diarra’s agility and reflexes were on full display throughout the tournament, earning him plaudits for his commanding presence between the posts. His performances for both club and country make him a key figure to watch as the African Champions League action resumes.

With these standout performers ready to grace the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON 2023 stage, fans can expect an exhilarating blend of skill, passion, and drama as the quest for continental glory resumes.

As the CAF AFCON 2023 legacy lives on, the stage is set for these top talents to shine on club football’s grandest stage.

CAF Champions League Match Day 5 Fixtures:

Friday, 23 February

  • 16h00 GMT | Al-Hilal – Petro de Luanda
  • 16h00 GMT | Medeama – Al Ahly SC
  • 19h00 GMT | Asec Mimosas – Simba SC

Saturday, 24 February

  • 13h00 GMT | Jwaneng Galaxy – Wydad AC
  • 13h00 GMT | TP Mazembe – Pyramids FC
  • 16h00 GMT | Nouadhibou – Mamelodi Sundowns FC
  • 16h00 GMT | Young Africans – CR Belouizdad
  • 19h00 GMT | ES Sahel – ES Tunis

-CAF

 

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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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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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Al Ahly to face Esperance in African Champions League final

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Ahly, Wydad set for Mundial de Clubes FIFA debut – Sundowns, Esperance eyeing other slots

Defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt will take on perennial rivals Esperance of Tunisia in this year’s African Champions League final after winning their semi-finals on Friday.

Al Ahly, who have won five of the last seven editions and a record 11 in total, overcame TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Cairo and Esperance pulled off a surprise 1-0 win over South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria.

Al Ahly won 3-0 after a goalless draw in the first leg in Lubumbashi for a comfortable aggregate triumph while Esperance’s 20-year-old defender Raed Bouchniba hammered home a clinical shot in the 57th minute to earn the Tunisians a 1-0 away win and 2-0 aggregate victory.

The match was delayed by 70 minutes after a lightning strike in South Africa’s capital knocked out some of the floodlights amid a heavy thunderstorm.

Sundowns won the new African Football League this season and were one of the favourites for the Champions League but fell short of the final for an eighth season in a row.

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Esperance’s 20-year-old goalkeeper Amanallah Memmich produced fine saves as the South African forwards fluffed their lines and the win also ensured a place for Esperance in next year’s Club World Cup in the U.S.

Al Ahly took until the 68th minute to break the deadlock against Mazembe when defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim scored.

Wessam Abou Ali added a second in the 83rd minute, stretching out his leg to apply a clever finish and Akram Tawfiq confirmed their superiority with a stoppage-time third.

Esperance host the first leg of the final on May 18 with the return in Cairo seven days later.

Esperance won the last of their four Champions League titles in 2019 and have been runners-up four times.

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CAF Champions League narrows to four teams

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CAF Champions League Quarter-Finals journey mapped out

From the original 54 teams from 42 countries that began the race last year, the CAF Champions League has now narrowed to four teams as a whopping 50 have been eliminated.

The four elite clubs in the semi-finals are Al Ahly of Egypt, Esperance Sportive de Tunis of Tunisia, South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and TP Mazembe of DR Congo.

Title holders and record champions Al Ahly are still on track to defend their title as they beat Simba SC in Cairo to secure their place while four-time winners Esperance Sportive de Tunis were made to labour hard against Asec Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire.

The reigning African Football League (“AFL”) Champions and 2025/16 winners Mamelodi Sundowns were pushed to the end by Tanzania’s Young Africans in South Africa.

Five-time winners TP Mazembe of DR Congo pulled one of the best performances this weekend with a 2-1 away win over Atletico Petroleos of Luanda after the first leg ended goalless.

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The semis will be played on home and away basis on 19-20 April 2024 (first leg) with the Second Leg scheduled for 26-27 April 2024.

In the first semi-final, Al Ahly (Egypt) will play TP Mazembe (DR Congo) in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.  Esperance Sportive de Tunis will play Mamelodi Sundowns in the second semi-final.

CAF will announce the dates and kick-off dates in due course.

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