Just as difficult

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 13 Dec 2022

Four Egyptian football clubs have landed in tough groups in both of Africa’s top interclub competitions, reports Inas Mazhar




The draw for the group stage of the African Champions League, the most prestigious football tournament in the continent and which was unveiled in Cairo on Monday, revealed that familiar adversaries will re-unite once again in this year’s edition.

Group A included Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco), Petro de Luanda (Angola), JS Kabylie (Algeria), and AS Vita Club (DR Congo) while Group B comprises Ahly (Egypt), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) Al-Hilal (Sudan), and Coton Sport (Cameroon).

Group C has Raja Club Athletic (Morocco), Horoya AC (Guinea) Simba SC (Tanzania) and Vipers SC (Uganda), whereas Group D embraces Esperance (Tunisia) Zamalek (Egypt), CR Belouizdad (Algeria), and Al-Merrikh (Sudan).

The two Egyptian clubs Ahly and Zamalek definitely have their work cut out for them. Sundowns and Coton Sport are previous champions and would like nothing better than to stall Ahly’s record tally at 10.

Zamalek, a five-time winner, must get by four-time champions Esperance and Belouizdad, a major force in Algerian football, if they want to make it six titles.

Ahly lost the last edition of the Champions league after losing 2-0 to Morocco’s Wydad in the final.

Interestingly, Group B will see a familiar line-up to that of last season with Ahly, Mamelodi Sundowns and Al-Hilal drawn together once again, with the new addition of Coton Sport joining the group.

The difference in the previous edition is that the three teams were drawn in Group A where Sundowns finished the group unbeaten, beating Egypt’s Ahly home and away, 1-0 either way.

Title holders Wydad Athletic Club have been drawn in Group A and are also re-uniting with a side they had faced in the group stages last year, Petro de Luanda. They lost to the Angolan giants in Luanda, but had their revenge with a massive 5-1 victory in the corresponding tie in Casablanca. The Moroccans will be joined in the group by Congolese side AS Vita Club and Algeria’s JS Kabylie.

Group C will meanwhile see an interesting East African battle with Simba SC of Tanzania drawn together with Ugandan debutants Vipers SC. They are joined in the group by another Moroccan team, Raja Club Athletic and Guinea’s Horoya.

Group D will feature some tempting and provocative North African derbies, with Tunisia’s Esperance, Egypt’s Zamalek, Algeria’s CR Belouizdad and Sudan’s Al-Merrikh.

The Champions League group phase is scheduled to start in February next year, following the conclusion of the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled to be held in Algeria in January. Each team is to play six match days from 10 February to 1 April.

On the other hand, the draw for the 2022-23 TotalEnergies second-tier football club tournament in Africa, the CAF Confederation Cup, was also held Monday.

Like the Champions League, it predicts an extremely tough hard-hitting competition, not least for Egyptian clubs Pyramids and Future who are pitted against each other in the same group.

Group A: USMA (Algeria), Marumo Gallants (South Africa), Al Akhder (Libya), St Eloi Lupopo (DR Congo). Group B: ASEC Mimosas (Côte d’Ivoire), Diables Noirs (Congo), Rivers United (Nigeria), DC Motema Pembe (DR Congo). Group C: Pyramids FC (Egypt), ASKO de kara (Togo), Future FC (Egypt), ASFAR (Morocco). Group D: TP Mazembe (DR Congo), US Monastir (Tunisia), Young Africans (Tanzania), AS Real Bamako (Mali).

The Confederation Cup’s six match days will be played from 12 February to 2 April 2023.

Monday’s draw procedures were run by Samson Adamu, CAF’s head of competition, who was assisted by former football celebrities including Angolan legend Flavio Amado, Tunisians Aymen Mathlouthi and Mejdi Traoui, and Zambian international Christopher Katongo, in addition to Moroccan female footballer Ghizlane Chebbak who led her club ASFAR to the Women’s Champions League title last month with an impressive 4-0 victory over South Africa’s Sundowns.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 December, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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