A giant-killing run that began back in the preliminary stages continued in the CAF Champions League on Sunday, as Dynamos of Zimbabwe took another major scalp. A 1-0 win over five-time champions Zamalek of Egypt in Harare on the final day of the group phase assured the Zimbabwean side of a place in the semi-finals.
David Shoko's free kick on the stroke of full time sailed into Zamalek's net to ensure another high profile victim as the unfancied ‘DeMbare' marched towards the final.
The result meant Dynamos finished second in Group A to claim a semifinal berth. They now set their sights on Cameroon's CotonSport, who they will meet over two legs.
Al Ahly of Egypt clash with Enyimba of Nigeria in the other semi-final, the first legs of which will be played in a fortnight on the weekend of 4-5 October.
Dynamos, who had knocked out defending champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the preliminary round and then revived their chances just a week ago with a last-gasp win at ASEC Abidjan, have thrown all conventional wisdom out the window in advancing to the last four.
The side has suffered from the financial crisis in their inflation-wracked country, often having to postpone training camps because of the lack of cash. On the eve of the match against Zamalek, players staged a sit-in as they sought promised bonus money.
But in spite of all the off-field distractions, Dynamos have been singularly focused on the field, and could have beaten a lacklustre Zamalek by more goals had they taken all their chances at the Rufaro stadium on Sunday.
Substitute Shoko's winner came after a series of fine saves by Zamalek goalkeeper Abdelwahed El Sayed kept the likes of Edward Sadomba and Benjamin Marere at bay.
The win over Zamalek also ended the slim hopes of ASEC Abidjan, who were hoping for a surprise win over Al Ahly in Cairo later on Sunday. But the game was rendered academic, and turned into an entertaining 2-2 draw in which ASEC twice quickly came back after conceding a goal.
Al Ahly finished three points clear at the head of Group A, but will be perplexed that Enyimba did not manage to do the same in Group B. Al Ahly and Enyimba have between them won four of their last five Champions League titles, but now clash in the semi-finals after Enyimba lost 3-0 at CotonSport on Saturday.
The Nigerians needed only to draw to win the group, but were handed a solid thumping in Garoua by the Cameroonian rookies, who are through to the semi-finals for the first time. CotonSport finished on 10 points, one more than Enyimba, to avoid a meeting with Al Ahly in the semifinals.
Up against it
Enyimba were always up against it after goalkeeper Rabo Saminvu, making his CAF Champions League debut, had been sent off in the 14th minute for bringing down CotonSport striker Kamilou Daouda.
The opening goal came from captain Ahmadou Ngomna in the 39th minute and was followed, in the second half, by Daouda's conversion of Oumarou Sanda's 61st minute corner and Ousmailia Baba's 82nd minute finish from Daouda's cross.
CotonSport had to win the game after TP Mazembe Englebert had grabbed a surprise 2-2 draw at Al Hilal in Khartoum on Friday. It had taken a last-gasp goal from Alain Kaluyitukadioko to keep the Democratic Republic of Congo champions in contention.