Monday,12 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1408, (6 - 12 September 2018)
Monday,12 November, 2018
Issue 1408, (6 - 12 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Coming up

In the quarter-finals of Africa’s two biggest football club tournaments, Egyptian squads Ahly and Masri met with mixed fortunes, reports Abeer Anwar from the draw’s site

Coming up

In the quarter-finals of the African Champions League, Egyptian giant Ahly will meet a decidedly weaker opponent in Horoya FC of Guinea.

In the quarter-finals of the Confederation Cup, the second tier continental club competition in Africa, Masri, nicknamed the Green Eagles, will have a much sterner test when they face the giants from Algeria, USM Alger, who topped their Group D in the first stage.

The draw for both the quarter-finals of the African Champions League and Confederation Cup took place on Monday in Cairo.

Qualifying for their third Confederation Cup in a row, Masri have, for the first time, reached the round of 16 after exiting at earlier stages in the past two years. They are the only team that remained unbeaten in any of their matches with two wins and three draws for nine points, one less than group leaders RS Berkane.

Masri advanced to the quarters last week following their away 1-1 draw with Mozambique’s UD Songo in Beira.

Despite Masri previously reaching the semi-final of a continental competition twice, both events came in defunct CAF competitions. Masri, based in Port Said some 200 kilometres east of Cairo, reached the semi-final of the 1999 Cup Winners’ Cup, and three years later were knocked out of the same stage in the 2002 CAF Cup.

The Green Eagles are making their second appearance in the CAF Confederation Cup. Last year they were knocked out of the second 1/16th round, but this season they have gone beyond the mini-league stage.

“We achieved our primary target,” Masri coach and Egyptian football legend Hossam Hassan told the press. “At first we wanted to reach the group stages, then we set our sights on qualifying for the next round. Now we want to go as far as possible,” Hassan said.

Hassan, 52, is guiding Masri in his fourth season with the club. “We wanted to stay on top,” added Hassan who is helped by his twin brother Ibrahim, acting as football director.

Masri will play the first leg at home on 16 September before travelling to Algiers to play the return leg on 23 September.

“It will be a very tough match for Masri but I know that the players are very enthusiastic and we hope to see them going to the semis,” Emam said.

On the same dates, Congo’s CARA Brazzaville will play against Morocco’s Raja, Rwanda’s Rayon Sport will meet Nigeria’s Enyimba, and Renaissance Sportive de Berkane from Morocco will meet AS Vita Club from RD Congo.

The winner of the quarter-final 1 will play the semi-final against the winner of quarter-final 2, and the winner of quarter-final 3 will play the semi-final against the winner of quarter-final 4.

The first leg of the semi-finals will be played on 2 October while the return leg will be played on 23 October. Both legs of the final will be played on 2 and 9 November.

In the draw of the quarter-finals of the African Champions League, Egyptian giant Ahly was apparently luckier than Masri after receiving a relatively easy draw against Horoya FC of Guinea.

Ahly, the record eight-time African Champions, had finished on top of Group A ahead of Esperance of Tunisia.

After losing last year’s final, the Red Devils are hoping to claim their ninth African title and first since 2013. They will play the first leg in Guinea on either 14 or 15 September while the return leg will be in Cairo on either 21 or 22 September.

If Ahly manage to progress to the semis, they will face the winner of ES Setif of Algeria and defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

“I am satisfied with the draw,” Mohamed Youssef, Ahly’s assistant coach told Al-Ahram Weekly.  “We are preparing well for the coming phase and our target is to reach the final. No matter what team we are facing, we will play every match as a final. It is a challenging stage and we have to be up to the challenge. I am sure we will be able to make it and reclaim our title,” Youssef said.

Horoya won the African Cup Winners’ Cup (now the African Confederation Cup) in 1978. The club won the Super Cup in 2012 for the first time after a 2-0 win over FC Séquence. From 2011 to 2013 the club achieved the title hat-trick in the National Guinée Championship. 

In 2014, they eliminated the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup runner-up Raja Casablanca in the second qualifying round of the Champions League. In 2018, the club reached the group stage of the Champions League.

In other Champions League quarter-final draws, Primero Agosto from Angola will face TP Mazembe from DR Congo, Tunisia’s Esperance will play countrymen Etoile du Sahel, and ES Setif  from Algeria will face neighbours Wydad Casablanca of Morocco. 

The winner of quarter-final 1 will play the semi-final against the winner of quarter-final 2, and the winner of quarter-final 3 will play the semi-final against the winner of quarter-final 4.

The first leg of the quarter-finals will be played on 14 or 15 September while the return legs will be played on 21 or 22 September.

The first leg of the semi-final will be played on 3 October and the return leg on 24 October. The two legs of the final will be played on 25 November and 2 December.

Monday’s draw was attended by CAF President Ahmad Al-Ahmad, Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi, Egyptian Football Association President Hani Abu Rida and President of the Egyptian Ahly Club Mahmoud Al-Khatib, together with officials from the squads which qualified.

Former South African defender Mark Fish, the tournament’s ambassador, and Egyptian icon Hazem Imam assisted in the draw.

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