The CAF Champions League semifinal first leg results were quite shocking. The Cairo duo of Al Ahly and Zamalek managed to secure solid wins over their Casablanca opponents – in Casablanca. Al Ahly beat Wydad Casablanca 2-0 and Zamalek managed to beat, the Moroccan Champions, Raja Casablanca 1-0.
I do not want to get ahead of myself but all signs point towards a Cairo Derby CAFCL final.
All four teams had the same concerns heading into the CAF Champions League semifinal first leg showdown. All four coaches complained about injuries and pile-up of fixtures. Nevertheless, the matches were watchable and all four contestants played to win.
The fact that the matches were entertaining is not the only observation I made of the two fixtures. There are four other things I learned from the CAFCL semifinal first leg and it will do you a world of good to find out what they were. Read on 😉
1. The 12th Man is Important
Safety measures put in place against Covid-19 meant that we would be robbed of the fanfare of the Wydad and Raja Curvas. The broadcasters tried to make things more palatable using the fake fan noises but I am not a fan.
Anyway, the lack of fans obviously affected all four teams. The visitors, Al Ahly and Zamalek, were encouraged to take the game to their opponents. The hosts, Wydad Casablanca and Raja Casablanca, struggled to cope with their opponents approach and could not find a lift from anywhere to get into second gear.
2. Take Your Chances
Of course, we are going to talk about the penalty that Badie Aouk missed. The Wydad winger was one of the players we expected to define the match. It is too bad that he did so by not being decisive. Why didn’t El Karti take that penalty?
These kinds of matches usually do not have a lot of clear cut chances. Therefore, it is a given that players should have the mindset of being clinical. And it is not Wydad Casablanca who were guilty of failing to get back into the tie. Raja Casablanca also failed to convert clear cut chances when they did arrive.
3. Wydad and Raja Need Depth
Wow! I know all four teams were missing key personnel. Zamalek was without Sassi and Al Ahly missed Rami Rabia, while many of their players who featured only passed late fitness tests. This did not stop the Egyptians sides from putting their best feet forward. On the contrary, Raja Casablanca and Wydad Casablanca clearly lacked like-for-like replacements for their missing key players.
I have spoken before of how the Moroccan giants have formidable starting XIs but are thoroughly lacking in the depth department. Depth is what allows you to compete well on both the domestic front and the CAF Champions League front. Unfortunately, only Al Ahly, Sundowns and Esperance Tunis have assembled teams that meet this criteria. If you can’t compete for both then you must pick one.
4. The Egyptian Premier League is Competitive
We have all spoken of how boring and uncompetitive the Egyptian Premier League is. The reason we like to give is because Al Ahly practically wins the league every season. What we forget is that Ahly do that because are very good. In fact, we have made the argument that Al Ahly would easily win every league in Africa all things constant.
The big sides of the Egyptian Premier League (they are only three) have truly high quality players. They can casually drop $1 million or $2 million to sign the best players in Egypt, rest of Africa or Europe – like Ahly did with Aliou Badji and Pyramids FC did with Ramadan Sobhi. So, guys let’s out some respect on the Egyptian Premier League’s name.