Voice of Sport

Vita win as Mazembe lose but both DR Congo teams could still meet in Final

AS Vita Club, Africa champions in 1973 were in control from the onset with danger man Ndombe and Ugandan striker Yunus Sentamu asking the Sfaxien defence several questions in Kinshasa


THE prospects of an all-Congolese Final in this year’s [African] Champions League soccer tournament were kept alive after AS Vita Club won in Kinshasa and TP Mazembe fell in Algeria but were left with hopes of overturning the result at their home in Lubumbashi.

In the first leg of the semi-finals over the weekend, AS Vita edged CS Sfaxien of Tunisia 2-1 while Mazembe, playing under closed stadium doors of their hosts Entente Setif fell 1-2.

Destined

An 89th minute individual goal from Abdelmalek Ziaya helped the Algerians to win the match which was seemingly destined to end in a draw.

Receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal, Ziaya turned Mazembe defender Chongo Kabaso and struck the ball past veteran goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba into the net.

The goal earned Setif a first win over Mazembe in five Champions League and second-tier Confederation Cup matches in five years. Mazembe will regret not making the most of their good start.

Deflected

The Congolese went ahead soon after half-time when Algerian defender Said Arroussi deflected a low Rainford Kalaba cross past goalkeeper Abdelwahab Khedairia.

Setif levelled three minutes later as 38-year-old Kidiaba allowed a Sofiene Younes header — off a Sid Ali Lamri cross — to slip over the goal-line.

Zambia star Kalaba wasted several stoppage-time chances to create an equaliser when he crossed poorly and over-hit a free-kick.

Match officials

The match was played behind closed doors on the orders of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Spectators were barred because of their behaviour during previous home matches.

CAF referred to “various reports of match officials especially during the group phase”.

Despite Setif’s win, four-time African champions Mazembe host the return match in the Democratic Republic of Congo mining city of Lubumbashi next Sunday, and they remain favourites to reach the final.

Advantage

The other semi-final produced an identical score line to Setif as a second Congolese club, Vita , used home advantage to build a slender advantage over Tunisians CS Sfaxien.

AS Vita, winners in 1973 were in control from the onset with danger man Ndombe and Ugandan striker, Yunus Sentamu, asking the Sfaxien defence several questions.

Ndombe was a thorn in the flesh of the Sfaxien rear and his swift runs on the left exposed Ghana-born Maman Youssufou, who manned the right-back for the Tunisians.

Lead

Four minutes past the half-hour mark, Ndombe beat his marker and laid to Sentamu, but the Ugandan blasted wide from close range.

Three minutes on, the stadium erupted into ecstasy after Ndombe broke the deadlock with an acrobatic finish from a corner-kick. Sentamu volleyed in from the corner before Ndombe finished off with an acrobatic shot past Sfaxien goalie Rami Jridi.

On resumption, Sfaxien came into the picture briefly as Gabonese-import Didier Ndong and Ferdjani Sassi regained control of the midfield.

Contrast

Luvumbu Nzinga doubled the lead nine minutes after half-time at Stade Tata Raphael with his first goal of the CAF campaign.

But Ali Maaloul halved the deficit with a goal that leaves Sfaxien in a similar situation to Mazembe — 1-0 home wins next weekend will secure final places.

In contrast to the eerie emptiness of Setif, the 35,000-capacity Kinshasa stadium was packed, creating a vibrant atmosphere.

Sfaxien and Mazembe clashed in the final of the second-tier Caf Confederation Cup last season with a late second-leg goal giving the Tunisians a 3-2 overall victory.

2014 African Champions League

Fixtures and results:

2013 champions: Al Ahly

Final:

  • First Leg: 24-26/10/14
  • Second Leg: 01-02/11/14

Semi-finals:

  • 21/09/14: AS Vita Club 2-1 CS Sfaxien
  • 27/09/14: CS Sfaxien v AS Vita Club
  • 20/09/14: Entente Setif 2-1 TP Mazembe
  • 28/09/14: TP Mazembe v Entente Setif

GROUP ‘A’:

P W D L GF GA Pts
TP Mazembe Q 6 3 2 1 5 2 11
AS Vita Q 6 3 2 1 6 4 11
Al Hilal 6 2 1 3 7 9 7
Zamalek 6 1 1 4 4 7 4

Fixtures:

  • 16-18/05/14: Al Hilal (Sudan) 1-0 TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
  • 16-18/05/14: AS Vita Club (DR Congo) 2-1 Zamalek (Egypt)
  • 23-25/05/14: TP Mazembe 1-0 AS Vita Club
  • 23-25/05/14: Zamalek 2-1 Al Hilal
  • 06-08/06/14: Al Hilal 1-1 AS Vita Club
  • 06-08/06/14: TP Mazembe 1-0 Zamalek
  • 25-27/07/14: AS Vita Club 2-1 Al Hilal
  • 25-27/07/14: Zamalek 0-0 TP Mazembe
  • 08-10/08/14: TP Mazembe 3-1 Al Hilal
  • 08-10/08/14: Zamalek 0-1 AS Vita Club
  • 22-24/08/14: Al Hilal 2-1 Zamalek
  • 22-24/08/14: AS Vita Club 0-0 TP Mazembe

GROUP ‘B’:

P W D L GF GA Pts
CS Sfaxien Q 6 3 2 1 8 5 11
Entente Setif Q 6 2 4 0 9 6 10
Esperance 5 1 1 3 7 9 4
Al Ahli Benghazi 5 1 1 3 5 9 4

Fixtures:

  • 16-18/05/14: Esperance (Tunisia) 1-2 Entente Setif (Algeria)
  • 16-18/05/14: CS Sfaxien (Tunisia ) 3-1 Al Ahli Benghazi (Libya)
  • 23-25/05/14: Al Ahli Benghazi 3-2 Esperance
  • 23-25/05/14: Entente Setif 1-1 CS Sfaxien
  • 06-08/06/14: Esperance 2-1 CS Sfaxien
  • 06-08/06/14: Entente Setif 1-1 Al Ahli Benghazi
  • 25-27/07/14: Al Ahli Benghazi 0-2 Entente Setif
  • 25-27/07/14: CS Sfaxien 1-0 Esperance
  • 08-10/08/14: Al Ahli Benghazi 0-1 CS Sfaxien
  • 08-10/08/14: Entente Setif 2-2 Esperance
  • 22-24/08/14: Esperance v Al Ahli Benghazi
  • 22-24/08/14: CS Sfaxien 1-1 Entente Setif

– Additional reporting by BBC Sport