There was only 1 match that ended goalless as 2 of the 8 quarter final teams were confirmed during this match-day. And a third team is almost as assured to be in the knockout phase as well. On the other hand, 6 clubs are all but out of the CAFCL unless we are entertained by dramatic happenings over the remaining match-days.
The next CAF Champions League fixtures will be on the weekend of 24th and 25th January, 2020.
1. First teams to reach quarterfinals
TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns became the first teams to qualify for the CAFCL quarterfinals after securing home wins. TP Mazembe welcomed back Tresor Mputu but were made to fight back from defeat against Primeiro Agosto. Jackson Muleka scored the winner to ensure a 2-1 home win. Sundowns won by a similar scoreline in completing a double over USM Alger.
The two teams also closed in top spot in their respective groups. All they will need in their next fixtures will be draws to be seeded in the last 8 draws.
2. Al Ahly cannot win away from home
Do you remember when Al Ahly used to be good? This was another confusing episode for the side to reconcile their perfect domestic record with the challenge of succeeding in Africa. Al Ahly became the first team in Group B to gift Platinum FC points. It does not bode well for their title chances. Last season, Ahly also failed to win a group match away from home despite being drawn against greenhorns like JS Saoura. The team’s final away match will be to Al Hilal in Omdurman.
3. CAFCL is too predictable
Nothing irks a football fan like a predictable football tournament. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the CAF Champions League is turning out to be. This season had the strongest group stage line-up since the expansion to 16 teams. But nothing different has emerged apart from Wydad Casablanca’s shocking run of results – even then they are still second in Group C.
The likes of USM Alger, JS Kabylie and Vita Club failed to live up to their pedigrees as dark horses. As well, clubs like Zesco United and Petro Luanda have offered no meaningful resistance to the competition’s usual suspects. The quarterfinal lineup looks very much similar to what we predicted when the CAFCL group stage draw was done.
4. Group B was the group of death
It has turned out that Group B was the group of death and that we should not have disrespected Al Hilal. We thought the presence of Algerian teams in Groups C and D would result in much more excitement. We also thought that Zamalek would self-destruct as they have so oft done. We were so wrong. All those groups have proven to be routine runs for the favourites.
Group B is at a knife-edge with 3 teams still in with a strong chance of not just qualifying but winning the group. Al Ahly has the toughest fixture list of the trio as they do not get to play Platinum FC again. There is going to be a lot of bitterness when it is all said and done.
What do you expect to happen in the next two match-days? Let us know in the comments section below.