20 April 2015 11:02
A historic last eight place is in sight for three Algerian clubs; ES Setif, MC Eulma and USM Alger after inspiring performances during the first leg matches of the 1/8th round at the weekend.
The North African country is seeking to write a new chapter as far as the mini-league stage of the CAF Champions League is concerned with three representatives. Since the inception of the mini-league stage in 1997, the maximum representation by a country has been two. Egypt, Tunisia and DR Congo in recent times have had two clubs at the lucrative group phase.
Holders ES Setif leads the charge after squeezing out a 2-2 draw against Raja Athletic Club of Morocco away in Casablanca. The homers came from behind twice to snatch to square matters, setting the stage for a difficult second leg in a fortnight in the northeastern Algerian city of Setif. Mohamed Benyettou gave the visitors a first half lead striking just before the break. Three minutes from recess, Yassine Salhi restored parity only for Benyettou to fire the defending champions back into the lead on 65 minutes, before Adil Karrouchy converted a penalty on 74 minutes for the equalizer.
Debutants MC Eulma continued their fairytale run with a narrow win over seasoned campaigners, CS Sfaxien, with Walid Derardja’s 27th minute strike separating the two sides at the Messaoud Zeghar Stadium in El Eulma.
It was yet a similar slim for Algeria’s third representatives, USM Alger, which beat AS Kaloum of Guinea 2-1 in Algiers. Khoauled Nacereddine and Mokhtar Benmoussa scored in either half for the hosts and Kabongo Kassongo netting the vital away goal for the Guinean champions in between.
The weekend was a ‘black one’ for Egyptian football after torchbearers, Al Ahly and Smouha suffered defeats against Moghreb Tetouane and AC Leopards in Tetouane and Dolisie respectively.
Striker Iajour Mouhssine took his tally to six with a shot from a free-kick on the stroke of full time to send record eight-time winners, Ahly packing to their Cairo-base empty.
Experienced forward, Rudy Guelord Ndey was to the to rescue of AC Leopards, scoring the match winner on 31 minutes to give ‘Les Fauves de Niari’ a first leg cushioning at the expense of debutants, Smouha.
El Hilal of Sudan masterminded the shocker of the weekend, silencing DR Congo side, Sanga Balende in front of their fans in Kinshasa. Veteran defender Saif Eldin Masawa notched the winner seven minutes from time.
Tunisian giants, Esperance suffered a lone goal loss against El Merreikh of Sudan whilst TP Mazembe of DR Congo forced out a 2-2 draw against Stade Malien in Bamako during the first leg matches of the 1/8th round on Saturday.
A 24th minute goal by Alaa Edin Youssef was enough to give Merreikh a slim first leg cushioning in front of their teeming fans who painted the El-Merreikh Stadiun in the ‘red and yellow’ colours of the ‘Al-Zaeem’.
Tried as the Tunisians did, the hosts remained firm, to ensure a narrow lead for the return leg in a fortnight in Rades. Esperance have appeared at the group phase successively since 2010, claiming the title two years later, their second triumph after 1994.
Zambia captain Rainford Kalaba inspired TP Mazembe to a 2-2 draw against Stade Malien, masterminding his side’s two goals in both halves.
Kalaba laid to Cheibane Traore, who tucked home from close for the opener on 27 minutes before outwitting his marker on the left before finding to Daniel Nii Adjei, who fired a grounder the second goal on 51 minutes.
Stade Malien responded positively canceling out both goals within a spate of two minutes. Ismael Kone reduced the deficit on 74 minutes before completing his brace two minutes later.
The second leg matches will take place on the weekend of 1-3 May 2015 with the winners advancing to the lucrative pool stages.
Saturday, 18 April 2015
El Merreikh (Sudan) 1-0 Esperance (Tunisia)
Stade Malien (Mali) 2-2 TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
Sunday, 19 April 2015
USM Alger (Algeria) 2-1 AS Kaloum (Guinea)
Sanga Balende (DR Congo) 0-1 El Hilal (Sudan)
MC Eulma (Algeria) 1-0 CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
AC Leopards (Congo) 1-0 Smouha (Egypt)
Moghreb Tetouane (Morocco) 1-0 Ahly (Egypt)
Raja Club Athletic (Morocco) 2-2 ES Setif (Algeria)
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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