After 3 teams of the 8 spots for the 2021 CAF Champions League were sealed in Matchweek 4, Matchweek 5 saw a few more spots being secured too as Simba SC and defending champions Al Ahly qualified for the quarterfinals of Africa’s elite club competition.
Wydad Casablanca, Mamelodi Sundowns and ES Tunis had already secured qualification after matchweek 4 and with the addition of Simba and Al Ahly, there are only 3 spots up for grabs as Group A is locked up now.
Simba SC were dominant on matchday 5 of the 2021 CAF Champions League group stages as they won comprehensively at home against DR Congo side Vita Club.
Luis Miquissone and Larry Bwalya scored for the Tanzanian giants as Clatous Chama scored a brace to secure 3 points for the home side and guarantee a 1st place finish in Group A, which features defending champions Al Ahly as well.
Simba’s 4-1 victory over Vita Club means that they are the only unbeaten team remaining in the group stages along with Mamelodi Sundowns.
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In the other match of the group, last season’s treble winners Al Ahly, also got the job done as they drew away from home against Sudanese club Al-Merrikh in Omdurman. A draw was enough for the Egyptian champions as that puts them 4 points ahead of Vita Club with just 1 game left in the group stages.
Pitso Mosimane’s side went 2-0 down but fought their way back to earn a hard-earned draw that saw a last minute equaliser, which has proven enough to get the cup holders through to the quarterfinals.
Cementing the second spot in Group A means that the Champions League winners could end up facing South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, which would be a mouthwatering clash as the Sundowns are one of the favourites to win this year’s tournament alongside the current champions.
The top 2 teams from each group qualify for the quarterfinals.
This is how Group A stands with 1 matchday to go in the group stage.
- Simba SC (Tanzania) – 13 points (Q)*
- Al Ahly (Egypt) – 8 points (Q)
- Vita Club (DR Congo) – 4 points
- Al-Merrikh (Sudan) – 2 points
Sudan’s Al-Hilal Club managed to hold the South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns to a 0-0 draw in Omdurman. Al-Hilal are currently leading the Sudan Premier League and will be hoping to make it through to the quarterfinals of the CAF Champions League on the final matchday.
Al-Hilal have now drawn 4 consecutive games in the competition and are yet to register a win but the draws have given them hope as they sit in 3rd place, 2 points behind Algerian club CR Belouizdad who have not had a great domestic season so far as they languish in 10th.
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Belouizdad knocked out 5-time CAF Champions League winners TP Mazembe after beating them 2-0 in Algiers to move to 2nd position in the group, behind the Sundowns.
Al-Hilal play bottom of the group TP Mazembe next in their quest for qualification while the Algerian giants CR Belouizdad face the Sundowns in the final game day. TP Mazembe have had a disappointing African campaign, however, they have been good in the domestic league in Congo DR as they currently sit on top of the table.
Who will join Mamelodi from Group B? Will it be CR Belouizdad or Al-Hilal Club?
This is how Group B stands.
- Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) – 13 points (Q)
- CR Belouizdad (Algeria) – 6 points
- Al-Hilal Club (Sudan) – 4 points
- TP Mazembe (DR Congo) – 2 points
Group C has a final matchday showdown between Guinea’s Horoya AC who have been struggling domestically this season as they sit 10th in the Ligue 1 table, and South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs who have also been struggling in the South African first division this season as they are languishing in 9th at the moment.
However, both these teams have a chance to redeem themselves through the Champions League as they both sit on equal points but Horoya edge the Chiefs out on goal difference at the moment.
This means that with only 1 spot available, Horoya need to simply avoid defeat to go through to the last 8 of the CAF CL. The Chiefs on the other hand, have to find a way to win away from home, when they visit Conakry on 10th April.
Kaizer Chiefs won their first do-or-die game by beating the group leaders Wydad Casablanca who had already secured their place in the quarterfinals after matchday 4 itself.
It was an amazing result for the side as they went down to 10 men after just 40 minutes when Daniel Akpeyi was sent off. The Kaizer Chiefs did enough to eke out a goal in the 48th minute through Bernard Parker but it was extremely nervy for the home side as Samir Nurkovic was also sent off in the 89th minute.
They managed to hold on and get the 3 crucial points that has kept them alive in qualifying aspirations to be one of the top 8 teams in African football.
In the other fixture of Group C, Horoya also won their all-important game thanks to a very early goal by Sekou Camara in the 2nd minute of the game. They held on to a 1-0 victory over Angola’s Petro de Luanda who languish in last place with just 1 point.
This is how Group C looks going into the final matchday.
- Wydad AC (Morocco) – 10 points (Q)
- Horoya (Guinea) – 8 points
- Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa) – 8 points
- Petro de Luanda (Angola) – 1 point
ES Tunis had already secured their spot in the final 8 of the CAF Champions League but missed an opportunity to ensure they would finish on top of the table after losing to Senegal Ligue 1 leaders Teungueth FC on matchday 5.
The Tunisian giants lost their first game of the qualifiers as the Senegalese side won their first game, winning 2-1. Although having already been eliminated from qualification, it was a matter of pride for the home team that hails from the highest-ranked African football nation.
They got the job done to move onto 4 points, but still sit in last place.
In the other game of the group, Egypt’s Zamalek pulled off a massive victory away from home to beat Algerian side MC Alger. The 2-0 win keeps the club’s hopes alive for qualification although they need a lot of things to end up in their favour to qualify for the quarterfinals.
ES Tunis are on 10 points and have already secured one spot. MC Alger who are currently second in Group D, face the Tunisians. As long as Alger avoid defeat, they will secure the last available spot in the CAF Champions League last 8.
A win would help the Algerians top the table, in fact. Zamalek need to defeat Teungueth and then hope for ES Tunis to beat MC Alger, in order to go through so the odds are stacked against the 5-time champions.
This is how Group D looks at the end of matchday 5.
- ES Tunis (Tunisia) – 10 points (Q)
- MC Alger (Algeria) – 8 points
- Zamalek (Egypt) – 5 points
- Teungueth (Senegal) – 4 points
6 teams are fighting it out for the final 3 places in the CAF Champions League quarterfinals. Who will join Simba SC, Al Ahly, Mamelodi Sundowns, Wydad AC and ES Tunis in the last eight?
*(Q) – Qualified