02 April 2015 02:21
Cameroonian representatives, Coton Sport and Cosmos de Bafia have tricky away tests as the second leg matches of the 1/16th round of the 2015 Orange CAF Champions League takes centre stage this weekend.
The two sides face elimination by virtue of daunting tasks with champions, Coton Sport traveling to Kinshasa to face DR Congo outfit, Sanga Balende whereas Cosmos de Bafia trek north as guests of former winners, Esperance of Tunisia in Rades.
Coton Sport, nicknamed ‘Les Cotonniers’ have served Cameroon’s finest ambassadors in the continental club championships during the last decade with the runner-up spot in 2008 ranking their best ever performance.
With unprecedented 11 league titles during the last 15-years, the Garoua-based club is faced with one of their quickest campaigns in the premier continental club championship since 2006, where they were bundled out at the preliminary stage by Renaissance FC of Chad.
After a shocking barren draw at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua two weeks ago, Coton Sport come up against a Sanga Balende side, which eased past Recreativo do Libolo of Angola at the previous round, and are poised to add their guests to their list of victims.
With a tall mountain before them, Coton Sport coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa has refused to throw in the towel as far as the encounter billed for the Tata Raphael Stadium in the capital is concerned.
“Our chances remain intact. We will do everything to score with a tight defence since they will be forced to score at least two goals to eliminate us. We know what to expect, but without certainty, we can make the mark,” said the Frenchman, who insists an offensive game remains the option.
Unlike Coton Sport, it is a much difficult situation for Cosmos de Bafia, who suffered a lone goal loss against Esperance in the previous fixture in Douala. The ‘Blood and Gold’ are favourites to complete a double over their guests, backed by their recent form in the domestic championship, which successive wins over AS Marsa (3-1) and ES Zarzis (2-1) has seen then move just a point off leaders, Etoile du Sahel, who have 44 points after 22 matches.
Similar tests await South African torchbearers, Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, who have dicey duels against former winners’ TP Mazembe of DR Congo and Raja Athletic Club of Morocco.
Sundowns, nicknamed ‘Brazilians’ go into the return leg with one goal advantage and will be hoping to replicate a feat achieved by rivals, Orlando Pirates, at the same ground in Lubumbashi three years ago. A 1-0 win by Mazembe was not enough to see them through as Pirates went through 3-2 on aggregate, before going further to lose to Egyptian giants, Ahly in the final.
Khama Billiat’s 86th minute goal made the difference in the first leg two weeks ago at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, and Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is looking to build on it at the expense of Mazembe, who have won the title twice in the last six years.
“This team has no experience of playing in Champions League; it was their first encounter playing against a big team. But what am happy about is that we finished strongly. We showed superiority in numbers and at the end we controlled the game. I think the team is becoming more matured,” Mosimane told the media after the initial fixture.
The picture appears gloomy for Kaizer Chiefs, beaten 1-0 by Raja in Durban two weeks ago with midfielder Ovidy Karuru ruled out of the decisive clash due to a hamstring injury whilst concerns remain over the fitness of veteran Siphiwe Tshabalala after a tooth operation.
However, head coach Stuart Baxter believes the ‘Amakhosi’ have what it takes to survive at the Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca.
“The team has worked hard in training and we are going to Morocco without any fear. We are well prepared for the challenge and shall give everything to give our supporters the result they crave,” the Scott was quoted by the club’s website.
Holders ES Setif will be at home against Real Banjul of Gambia in Setif whilst fellows MC Eulma have a tough date with two-time champions and Ghana champions, Asante Kotoko in Kumasi.
Algeria’s third representative, USM Alger has one foot at the next round as they battle AS Pikine of Senegal in Dakar thanks to a 5-1 win from the first leg just as Moghreb Tetouane of Morocco against Kano Pillars of Nigeria. The Morocco champions won the first leg 4-0.
Sudanese duo, El Hilal and El Merreikh will both travel south, to Malawi and Angola as guests of Big Bullets and Kabuscorp respectively.
Regular campiagners, CS Sfaxien of Tunisia have almost but confirmed their participation at the next round at the expense of AS Togo, after a 5-0 triumph in the first leg in Lome. The Sfax-based club will be guided by a trainer after Ghazi Ghrairi parted ways with the club last week.
In Cairo, eight time winner, Ahly will come up against APR of Rwanda whilst Smouha will seek to overturn the tables against two-time winners, Enyimba of Nigeria in Alexandria.
The winners will advance to the 1/8th round, the ultimate stage before the lucrative mini-league stage.
Friday, 3 April 2015
AS Pikine (Senegal) vs USM Alger (Algeria) 1-5
ES Setif (Algeria) vs Real Banjul (Gambia) 1-1
Saturday, 4 April 2015
Kabuscorp (Angola) vs El Merreikh (Sudan) 0-2
Al Ahly (Egypt) vs APR (Rwanda) 2-0
Kano Pillars (Nigeria) vs Moghreb Tetouane (Morocco) 0-4
Stade Malien (Mali) vs Mangasport (Gabon) 3-1
Sunday, 5 April 2015
AS Kaloum (Guinea) vs Zesco United (Zambia) 1-1
Big Bullets (Malawi) vs El Hilal (Sudan) 0-4
Sanga Balende (DR Congo) vs Coton Sport (Cameroon) 0-0
Esperance (Tunisia) vs Cosmos de Bafia (Cameroon) 1-0
CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) vs Semassi (Togo) 5-0
Asante Kotoko (Ghana) vs MC Eulma (Algeria) 0-0
Smouha (Egypt) vs Enyimba (Nigeria) 0-1
AC Leopards (Congo) vs Gor Mahia (Kenya) 1-0
Raja Athletic Club (Morocco) vs Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa) 1-0
TP Mazembe (DR Congo) vs Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 0-1
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News