Zamalek put one foot in final
While the all-North African semi-final tie in the CAF Champions League has all but been decided after Zamalek's overwhelming 4-0 victory against Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca, the situation down south is very different. Zambian club Zesco United, who have never progressed beyond the group stage, kept alive their hopes of a first-ever place in the final with a 2-1 victory against South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns at home.
The winner of October's two-legged final will represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 in December.
Game of the week* Zamalek 4-0 Wydad Casablanca* Wydad Casablanca will have a mountain to climb if they want to qualify for their third Champions League final. The Moroccan club slumped to an emphatic 4-0 defeat against five-time champions Zamalek. Shikabala gave the home side the lead with a remarkable goal early on. The striker received the ball in his own half, ran over 50 meters before unleashing a powerful shot from well outside the goal area. Ayman Hefny then doubled the lead in the 18th minute, putting Zamalek firmly in control. The White Knights came out of the change rooms as charged as they were at the start of the first, scoring a third goal just a few minutes after the restart through Bassem Morsi. Worse was to follow for the visitors as Zamalek midfielder Mostafa Fathi found the back of the net from the penalty spot giving reserve goalkeeper Mohamed Akid, who had to take over from regular goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi, no chance. But despite achieving their highest-ever winning margin in the semi-final, Zamalek coach Moemen Soliman saw some problems with his side's performance. "Despite the big win, we committed some mistakes that we will work hard to avoid in the coming match," he said.
The other match Going into their match against Mamelodi Sundowns, Zambian club Zesco United had yet to lose in African club competitions at home in Ndola. And they managed to maintain that record with a 2-1 victory against the Brazilians for a result that leaves the tie wide open. Neither side managed a goal before the break, with Jesse Were coming close for the home side early on, but his attempt found goalkeeper Denis Onyango at his best. The home side finally broke the deadlock shortly after the restart when Jackson Mwanza headed home. And the striker added another just two minutes later, deflecting a free-kick past the Ugandan goalkeeper. After falling behind Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane made three changes and his gamble paid off as Liberian substitute Anthony Laffor provided the assist to allow South African Footballer of the Year Khama Billiat to pull back a goal for the South African side – keeping the tie wide open.
Player of the week The goals scored by Zesco United in their successful Champions League campaign this season have been scored by a number of players, with Idriss Mbombo, Clatous Chama and Jesse Were all being found high-up in the competition's scorer charts. In Saturday's semi-final against Mamelodi Sundowns, however, it was Jackson Mwamza who kept alive Ya Ziko's chances of a first-ever place in the final of the Champions League. The Chipolopolo striker found the net twice to seal his side's 2-1 victory. Although the 29-year-old is not a regular in the national team, he is not an unknown entity, having won Zambia's Golden Boot award in 2014 with 15 goals.
The stat 6 – The number of matches that Zambian club Zesco United have now won at home this year in the Champions League. The only blight in their record is a 1-1 draw against Wydad Casablanca in the group stage. They won the six other home games with a total goal difference of +10, with 17 goals for and seven against.
What they said "The players' performance was outstanding. It wasn't only 100 per cent, but 120 per cent. I am very happy with the great victory. We respected our opponents and studied them well, and I want to thank all the players after succeeding to fulfil our expectations. However, qualification for the final isn't ensured yet," Zamalek coach Moemen Soliman.
Have your say Can Wydad Casablanca become the first club to bounce back from a four-goal first leg deficit to snatch an unlikely place in the Champions League final. The 1992 winners lost the away leg in Egypt 4-0.