This is arguably the most high profile tie of the 2020/2021 CAF Champions League First Round. It is the only match-up between two sides that have played in the CAFCL final before. It is also a North African derby and a contest between two sides in great form.

MC Alger Probable XI: Salhi – Allati, Merouani, Saadou, Brahimi – Diomande, El Moudene, Djabou – Belkheir, Benaldja, Abdelhafid (4-3-3).

CS Sfaxien Probable XI: Dahmen – Maaroufi, Amamou, Dagdoug, Jouini – Karoui, Sokari, Kouakou – Ben Ali, Chaouat, Eduwo (4-3-3).

The first leg of this CAFCL First Round tie will be played in Algiers on 28th December 2020.

What is at Stake?

Firas Chaouat

MC Alger are a former African Champion. Respect. But they won this sole title in 1976 and have never really perfomed in the CAFCL again. We expect more from the “biggest club in Algeria.” MC Alger have been an underachiever due to years of mismanagement as explained by Walid Ziani of DZ Foot.

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CS Sfaxien is the opposite of MC Alger. When they qualify for the CAF Champions League they always put in great performances. Unfortunately, for Sfaxien, those opportunities are usually few and far between. They have never even qualified for the CAFCL for two consecutive seasons. It is simply too hard when you have to do it against Esperance Tunis, Etoile Sahel and Club Africain.

So, this is another rare opportunity for them to become like the other big Tunisian clubs by saying that they have won the CAF Champions League title. They have a squad that can do it but a two-legged match against a North African side is always 50-50 as they learnt from Paradou in the CAFCC last season.

What will the Match be like?

MC Alger’s greatest strength is their attack as recognized by, their coach, Nabil Neghiz. CS Sfaxien have an exciting young squad so we expect goals – even though we know these kinds of matches usually fail to deliver. Anyone remember Wydad Casablanca vs Esperance Tunis in 2011?

MC Alger signed Isla Diomande to fill the shoes left by Aliou Dieng and so far things are working for him. The Algerian capital club also have Djabou somehow still putting in good performances after all these years. But we will be checking if this exciting MC Alger team will be giving us the next good Algerian player in the Tunisian Ligue 1…er…I mean CAF Champions League.

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CS Sfaxien can rely on Firas Chaouat again. The Tunisian striker was at one time the hottest prospect in African football and he has returned to scoring goals every othe game. Who needs Malick Evouna?

Think of CS Sfaxien as you would a Tottenham Hostpur. The are not the deepest squad in Africa; there are even two better squads in their own country. But their starting XI is formidable and will beat anybody on their day. The loss of Wassim Hnid notwithstanding. They still have one of the best goalkeepers in Africa, the duo of Sokari and Karoui plus Firas Chaouat to go with a capable supporting cast.

Prediction

MC Alger 2-2 CS Sfaxien

Ambitous scoreline? I believe we will see goals. MC Alger have to build an advantage heading to Sfax and the Tunisians do not look like they will play second fiddle to MC Alger. They did that against Paradou last season, in the CAFCC, and it cost them a great deal.