Remaining COSAFA clubs take aim at CAF club competition

COSAFA’s two remaining African club competition representatives learnt their fate for the rest of this season when the draw for the last stages of the African Champions League and African Confederation Cup was conducted in Cairo last week.

In the Champions League, South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns will next be up against Chabab Belouzidad of Algeria in the last eight and then on course for a semi-final show down against holders Wydad Casablanca or Tanzania’s Simba.

Chabab Belouizdad finished one point behind Esperance in Group D but above Egypt’s Zamalek and are leading the Algerian league standings by four points.

They were in the same group with Sundowns two seasons ago when the Brazilians won 5-1 away in a match hosted in Tanzania during the COVID-19 pandemic when Algeria were not allowing other Africans into their country and Belouizdad were forced to move the game to Dar-es-Salaam. The return match in Pretoria came after Sundowns had already booked a quarter-final slot and saw Belouizdad win 2-0 in Pretoria.

The club recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, having being formed just after Algerian independence, and are reigning Algeria champions. Last season’s success was their ninth overall title – including the last three in a row — but they have only ever got as far as the semi-final in continental club competition, in the old Africa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1996.

South African side Marumo Gallants were drawn in Confederation Cup quarter-final against Pyramids of Egypt.

The Cairo club are one of the richest clubs in Africa, set up and financed by Saudi billionaire Turki Al-Sheikh, who now owns LaLiga outfit Almeria and have challenged the duopoly of Al Ahly and Zamalek in Egyptian club football. In the last four seasons they have finished third three timed in a row and last campaign were runners-up in the Egyptian league. This season they are in third place again with some nine games left to play in the league.

Pyramids, who have the Portuguese Jaime Pacheco as their coach, were Confederation Cup runners-up in the COVID-hit 2020 tournament when they lost 1-0 to Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane in the final.

Gallants go away for the quarter-final first leg on April 23 and host the return leg on April 30.

If they advance to the semi-finals in May, they will play either Nigeria’s Rivers United or Tanzania’s young Africans – again away in the first leg and then home for the return.