After both Sudan clubs managed to qualify for the CAF Champions League semi-finals, Sudanese football fans were dreaming of their country becoming the first-ever to provide both teams for a final. Their hopes were horribly quashed, however, on the weekend in the return legs as both teams were knocked out.
The winner of November's two-legged final between Algeria's USM Alger and DR Congo's four-time champion TP Mazembe will represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015 in December.
Game of the week
USM Alger 0-0 Al Hilal
After winning the away leg 2-1 in Omdurman against Al Hilal, USM Alger had one leg in the final ahead of their return match in the Algerian capital. But if they thought they could easily add another victory, they were in for a shock as Hilal played a solid game, building their chances from a strong back-line. They were nearly rewarded five minutes from the end when USM goalkeeper Mohamed Zemmamouche was called upon to make a top-notch save from an Abdullatif Boya attempt. Playing in front of a capacity crowd in the cozy Stade Omar Hamadi, Mohamed Meftah thought he had given the home side the win in the dying minutes, only to see his goal ruled offside. Meftah and Malagasy forward Carolus Andriamatsinoro will miss the first leg of the final after being booked, while Kaddour Beldjilali could be out with an injury and Youcef Belaili has received a long suspension for a doping offence. USM coach Miloud Hamdi predicted that the final will be an open affair. “Both teams will go into the final on the same footing, but it is now our aim to win the trophy. We will be able to replace all of our missing players.”
The other match
After making it to the semi-finals in two of the last three seasons, TP Mazembe were desperate to go further this time around. But to manage that feat, they had to overcome a 2-1 defeat from the opening leg in Sudan against Al Merreikh. The home side took the initiative from the opening whistle, but struggled to find a way through the solid Sudanese defence. Tanzanian international Mbwana Samatta finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute with a well-taken header after a corner. Samatta grabbed his second with 20 minutes to go after Yaw Frimpong went around two markers and found the striker with a pin-point cross. Just a few minutes later second-half substitute Roger Assale put matters beyond doubt with a third, after another good Frimpong cross. The 3-0 win, which gave Les Corbeaux a 4-2 aggregate victory, sees the Lubumbashi-based team through to their first final since clinching back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron said that the team played their normal attack-minded game. “We wanted to create a lot of opportunities. It is an extraordinary day and we have given millions of Katangan and Congolese fans joy by qualifying for the final.”
Player of the week
Tanzanian international Thomas Ulimwengu was the man of the match for TP Mazembe in the first leg as the striker scored an important away goal for the visitors. In the return leg, it was Ulimwengu's compatriot Samatta who ensured a seventh appearance in the final of the competition for his club. Samatta, who has played for the DR Congo side since 2011, opened the scoring shortly after the break and then doubled the score in the 70th minute, finding the net from a low cross. Although Côte d'Ivoire international Roger Assale, who came on as a substitute in the second half, added a third, it was Samatta's goals which set his side on the road to the final.
5 – Algeria became the first country to supply five finalists in the competition. Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt and Cameroon have each had four finalists. Algerian clubs JS Kabylie (1981, 1990), ES Setif (1988, 2014) and MC Alger (1976) have won the competition, while MC Oran (1989) were beaten in the final.
What they said
"Now we can finally say we want to win the Champions League and offer it to all the Algerian people. That is our goal," USM Alger president Ali Haddad.
Have your say
Can TP Mazembe join Egypt's Zamalek as the continent's second-best club with five African crowns? Zamalek's Cairo rivals Al Ahly hold the record with eight titles.