- Paul Bassey in Algeria for Bejaaia, Zamalek clash
Despite a convincing 3-0 CAF Champions League first leg victory against Etoile Sportive du Sahel in Port Harcourt a fortnight ago, Nigerian Champion, Enyimba FC, is set for a strange midweek fixture that may turn out to be a do or die confrontation tomorrow in Sousse, about 150 kilometres from the Tunisian capital city of Tunis.
Already in Tunis for the top of the bill confrontation that will be handled by Moroccan officials with Sinko Zeli of Cote d’Ivoire as match commissioner, the Nigerians are confident of holding on to their impressive 3-0 advantage.
The Tunisian media has applauded CAF for the appointment of the Moroccan referees who they consider as “justice” in reference to the Togolese officials that handled the first leg match.
They are however wondering why a West African has been appointed a match commissioner same as Alhaji Dauda Jawula of Ghana who handled the first leg match
No stranger to the vociferous support expected from Etoile supporters in Sousse, Enyimba Chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu told the media before departure Lagos yesterday night that they were ready for the worst.
“We have trained under floodlight and on artificial turf. We are ready for a capacity and sometimes unfriendly crowd. Enyimba will not be intimidated. The three goals we scored back home cannot be disputed and we will endeavour to re-establish our superiority before their very own fans,” stressed Anyasi-Agwu before departing Lagos yesterday.
In another development , respected CAF and FIFA Match Commissioner, Paul Bassey, is in Algeria to superintendent over what is expected to be an explosive return leg match between Mouloudia Olympic Bejaaia of Algeria and Zamalek of Egypt.
The North African derby will have Tunisian referees headed by Youssef Essrayi.
While flying out aboard Emirates Airlines from Abuja last Friday, Bassey modestly contested the view that he was specifically picked for the match by CAF considering its high risk nature.
“No. I know it will be tough, with Mouloudia hoping to overturn a two-goal deficit, but don’t forget that at this stage all the matches are considered tough being the last matches that will guarantee qualification to the group stage,” observed Bassey who also doubles as chairman of Akwa United FC.
The Mouloudia versus Zamalek match is to kick off at 6pm this evening in the beautiful town of Bejaaia home town of Mouloudia.
This midweek’s matches see several big names in trouble, including defending champions TP Mazembe, who find themselves 2-0 down ahead of hosting Wydad Casablanca in Lubumbashi tomorrow afternoon.
Today’s action sees Zesco United looking to wrap up progression as they host Stade Malien. The Zambians claimed an impressive 3-1 away win in the first leg in Bamako and will be confident of adding to their advantage in Ndola.
Ivory Coast giants ASEC Mimosas travel to Al Ahly Tripoli while the clash between 2014 winners ES Setif and Sudan’s El Merreikh promises to be a thriller, with the teams locked at 2-2 ahead of the return game in Algeria.
Al Ahly will be targeting a home win when they host Tanzania’s ever-improving Young Africans (the teams drew 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam in the first leg), while South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns need a victory against DR Congo’s AS Vita after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the first leg in Kinshasa.
The eight aggregate winners will advance into the group stage of the Champions League, while the eight losers will move into the playoff round of the Confederation Cup.
TUESDAY 19 APRIL
Al Ahly Tripoli v ASEC Mimosas (0-2)
Zesco Utd v Stade Malien (3-1)
MO Bejaia v Zamalek (0-2)
ES Setif v Al Merreikh (2-2)
WEDNESDAY 20 APRIL
TP Mazembe v Wydad Casablanca (0-2)
Etoile du Sahel v Enyimba (0-3)
Mamelodi v AS Vita (0-1)
Al Ahly v Young Africans (1-1)