Voice of Sport

Cecafa boy, Samatta shoots TP Mazembe to Group Stage alongside another Congo side AS Vita Club

Final day witnesses shock elimination of Cairo’s Al Ahly by Libyan club from Benghazi


AN East African was one of the sensations in the final round of preliminaries of the Africa Champions League which also saw the shock elimination of defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt by the Libyan club by the same name from Benghazi.

Mbwana  Ally Samatta a Dar es Salaam boy came on as substitute to score for four-time champion TP [Englebert] Mazembe of  Democratic Republic of Congo to win 1-0 at home in Lubumbashi against Cote d’Ivoire’s Sewe San Pedro.

Samatta had also scored a last gasp away goal in their 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Abidjan the previous weekend. So [Englebert] Mazembe, champions of Africa in 1967, ’68, 2009 and 2010 had everything to thank Samatta for putting them through to the group stage.

Passionate fans

Earlier there were jitters in a stadium packed with passionate fans as Mazembe failed to take advantage of an early second-half penalty in the mining city Lubumbashi with Zambian Jonas Sakuwaha having his kick blocked.

The Cecafa [Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations] region retained one representative in the Champions’ League Group Stage after Al Hilal of Omdurman eliminated AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville.

They drew 1-1 in Brazzaville having deadlocked 0-0 in Omdurman and thus Al Hilal went through on the away goal rule.

For the first time, another DR Congo club will also be in the group stage alongside Mazembe, after AS Vita Club knocked out South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs. Vita lost 2-0 to the South Africans in Soweto, but squeezed through on aggregate having built a three-goal first-leg lead in Kinshasa.

First half injuries

Zimbabwean Knowledge Musona gave Chiefs the perfect start with a ninth-minute goal, but first-half injuries to him and goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse disrupted the home team. It was not until the last minute that the South Africans scored again with defender Morgan Gould heading past goalkeeper Herve Lombolo.

Record eight-time winners Al Ahly of Cairo were knocked out of contention but their compatriots, Zamalek, progressed.

The Cairo ‘Red Devils’ lost the second leg of their last 16 tie 2-3 to Libyans Al Ahli Benghazi, having lost the first leg 1-0.

Lucrative stage

It meant that Al Ahly, who were aiming for a third successive triumph, went out 4-2 on aggregate. Al Ahli Benghazi go through to the lucrative group phase.

As do five-time former winners Zamalek, who were 5-0 winners over Nkana of Zambia in their second leg thanks to goals from Ahmed Tawfiq, Moemen Zakaria, Omar Gaber, Hazem Emam and Ahmed Gaafar. The first leg in Zambia had ended goal-less. The Cairo ‘White Knights’ had won the four previous meetings between the two sides dating back to 1984.

The overall losers from the second legs drop into the Confederation Cup, where they will face a two-legged play-off to reach the group phase of that competition.

Converted penalty

Al-Ahly were on course to succeed against their Libyan opponents when Mohamed Naguib side-footed a cut-back across Benghazi goalkeeper Wissem El-Boudi into the corner of the net for the opening goal in the 38th minute. However, three minutes later Egyptian captain Hossam Ashour fouled Zimbabwe’s Sadomba and Abdulrahman Fetori converted the penalty.

Ahly had to score at least twice more under the away-goals rule to avoid a first exit at the qualifying stage since losing to Nigerians Kano Pillars five years ago.

It was Benghazi who scored twice instead to take the tie away from the African champions. Ahly surrendered possession in midfield and a cross-field pass found Abdel Hafiz, who unleashed a thunderbolt past goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy.

Veteran

A patient build-up led to the third Libyan goal six minutes later with El-Mahdy curling a shot over Ekramy from the edge of the box.

To add to Ahly’s woes, veteran midfielder Ahmed Fathy was sent off for a reckless lunge. Unmarked Egyptian Amr Gamal nodded past El-Boudy 13 minutes from time, but it was too little, too late, and the Libyans held on for a famous victory.

Benghazi made no impression in their other Champions League appearances and have been forced to play home games in neighbouring Tunisia because of Libyan insecurity.

Perfect record

Al-Ittihad are the only Libyan club to previously reach the group stage, and progressed to the 2007 semi-finals before losing to Ahly.

Sfaxien of Tunisia maintained a perfect record in the competition this season with a 2-0 win over Guineans Horoya in the Mediterranean city of Sfax. Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, scorer of the lone first-leg goal in West Africa, and Mohamed Ali Moncer were on target for the 2006 Champions League runners-up. Sfaxien won 3-0 on aggregate.

The 1988 African champions Entente Setif of Algeria were 1-0 winners away to Cameroonians Coton Sport, who were runners-up in 2008. The Algerians won the tie 2-0 on aggregate.

Tunisians Esperance also progressed, with a 3-0 win over Mali’s Real Bamako . The first leg had ended 1-1, and Sudan’s Al Hilal and Leopards of Congo-Brazzaville squared off in Omdurman deadlocked at 1-1.

2014 CAMPIONS LEAGUE

2013 Champions: Al Ahly

Third round

Winners qualify for the league phase, losers into Confederation Cup

  • 21-23/3/14: Al Ahli Benghazi (Libya) 1-0 Al Ahly
  • 28-30/3/14: Al Ahly (Egypt) 2-3 Al Ahli Benghazi
  • Al Ahli Benghazi win 4-2 on aggregate.
  • 21-23/3/14: Real Bamako (Mali) 1-1 Esperance
  • 28-30/3/14: Esperance (Tunisia) 3-0 Real Bamako
  • Esperance win 4-1 on aggregate.
  • 21-23/3/14: Sewe Sport (Ivory Coast) 2-1 TP Mazembe
  • 28-30/3/14: TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 1-0 Sewe Sport
  • 2-2 on aggregate TP Mazembe advance on away goals rule
  • 21-23/3/14: Horoya (Guinea) 0-1 CS Sfaxien
  • 28-30/3/14: CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) 2-0 Horoya
  • CS Sfaxien win 3-0 on aggregate.
  • 21-23/3/14: Entente Setif (Algeria) 1-0 Coton Sport
  • 28-30/3/14: Coton Sport (Cameroon) 0-1 Entente Setif
  • Entente Setif win 2-0 on aggregate.
  • 21-23/3/14: AC Leopards (Congo) 1-1 Al Hilal
  • 28-30/3/14: Al Hilal (Sudan) 0-0 AC Leopards
  • 1-1 on aggregate Al Hilal advance on away goals rule
  • 21-23/3/14: AS Vita Club (DR Congo) 3-0 Kaizer Chiefs
  • 28-30/3/14: Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa) 2-0 AS Vita Club
  • AS Vita Club win 3-2 on aggregate.
  • 21-23/3/14: Nkana FC (Zambia) 0-0 Zamalek
  • 28-30/3/14: Zamalek (Egypt) 5-0 Nkana FC
  • Zamalek win 5-0 on aggregate.

–  Additional reporting by BBC Sport