Regional rivalries in Africa's last four
This year's final in the CAF Champions League will be a clash between north and south after Wydad Casablanca won Group A to set up a semi-final against Egyptian club Zamalek, who finished second place in Group B. Wydad managed to secure the draw they needed in Ndola against Zesco United to stay ahead of the Zambian club, who will now face Mamelodi Sundowns in the last four.
The winner of the competition will go on to represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan later this year.
Match of the week Zesco United 1-1 Wydad Casablanca Two points behind the Moroccans, Zesco knew they needed a victory to avoid the impressive South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the next round, and Kenyan David Owino opened the scoring for the home side early on in the match with a powerful header. But Team Ya Ziko could not hold the lead as Nigerian Chisom Chikatara scored the equaliser shortly after the break. Chikatara was playing in his first Champions League match for the Moroccan club, whom he only joined a few weeks ago. Earlier, Zesco captain and goalkeeper Joseph Banda kept his side in the game with some excellent saves. The draw sees Wydad win the group with 11 points, while Zesco qualify for their first semi-final on nine.
The other matches In Abidjan record champions Al Ahly took on hosts ASEC Mimosas in a match that was to decide which team was to win the proverbial wooden spoon in the group. The home side needed to win to overtake the Cairo giants, but neither side managed to create many chances. The best fell to Ahly striker Amr Gamal, who twice could have put his side ahead but failed to convert. The goalless draw sees Ahly finish third in Group A on six points, one more than ASEC.
In Port Harcourt, Enyimba took on Sundowns in a match that would not affect the outcome of Group B. Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane had the luxury of being able to rest eight regulars as his side had already been assured of winning the group.
For bottom of the table Enyimba there was only pride to play for, and the players seemed to thrive in the circumstances. They opened the scoring midway through the first half through a good set-piece goal from Uche John. Against the run of play Percy Tau levelled matters shortly afterwards, but top scorer Mfon Udoh gave The People's Elephant the half-time lead, capitalising on a slip by Sundowns goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.
Udoh got his brace five minutes after the break when he got up after being fouled in the area to convert from the spot to complete a 3-1 victory. The win gave the hosts their first and only points of the group stage, and Mosimane paid tribute to Enyimba after the game. “We don't want to make excuses. We lost fair and the referee was good. So congratulations to Enyimba, because they deserved to win.”
Player of the week As two-time champions, Enyimba's performance in the group stage of the competition was disappointing, as three defeats from their opening three matches saw them eliminated ahead of their final game in the three-team group. However, the emergence of 24-year-old Mfon Udoh is surely a bright spot. Going into their final match against the already qualified Mamelodi Sundowns, the former Akwa United player had already found the net seven times, including a hat-trick in a 3-0 victory against Etoile du Sahel. His two goals against Sundowns take his tally to nine, a mark likely to win him the top scorer award.
The stat 22 – The number of home matches since Zesco United last suffered defeat in African Cup competitions. The Zambian club have yet to lose in front of their own fans. However, the draw against Wydad ends their run of five victories at home.
What they said “We won a game out of four and a match we rightly considered a must-win one and against the strongest side in the group, Mamelodi Sundowns. We are happy exiting Africa's strongest competition on a high and we feel proud of the achievement as well as having represented Nigeria,” Enyimba striker Joseph Osadiaye.
Have your say The only team in the semi-finals never to have played in the championship match is Zesco United. Can they become just the second team from Zambia to qualify for the final?