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African reality check for Simba as they tackle champions Ahly


Johannesburg (AFP) – Simba SC of Tanzania host title-holders Al Ahly of Egypt Tuesday in a CAF Champions League match that will serve as a reality check for the east African club as they dream of becoming a continental force.   

Officials of the Dar es Salaam club have ambitiously targeted a semi-finals place and the team made a promising start to Group A by defeating more experienced V Club in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

But record nine-time champions Ahly are the benchmark by which every African club is judged, and the Mohamed el Shenawy-captained Red Devils are seeking revenge for a 2019 loss to Simba in Tanzania.

Here, AFP Sport highlights some of the seven matchday 2 fixtures this week in the marquee African club competition.

Group A

An Ahly team coached by South African Pitso Mosimane are buoyant after finishing third at the Club World Cup in Qatar and outplaying Al Merrikh of Sudan in their first group outing.  

However, they travelled to Tanzania without Ali Maaloul, Taher Mohamed, Walid Soliman and Salah Mohsen, all injured, and suspended Hussein el Shahat.

France-born Simba coach Didier Gomes da Rosa is hopeful of causing an upset, telling reporters that “our target is to win and build on what we achieved in Kinshasa”.

Group B

Five-time champions TP Mazembe from DR Congo visit Al Hilal of Sudan for a fixture which rekindles a rivalry that produced two strange results when they clashed in a 2009 semi-final. 

Sauna-like Omdurman is a challenge for any visiting team, yet Mazembe triumphed 5-2 there before suffering a shock 2-0 loss in Lubumbashi, where they are virtually invincible. 

Neither team had a good matchday 1 with leading Mazembe scorer Thomas Ulimwengu shackled in a 0-0 home draw with CR Belouizdad of Algeria while Hilal fell 2-0 away to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.

Group C

Unlike Europe, African coaches battle to obtain footage of opponents for pre-match analysis because there are no shows that screen even highlights from the major leagues on the continent.  

But Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa coach Gavin Hunt knows Guinean visitors Horoya well as he was in charge of Bidvest Wits when they played the Conakry outfit twice in the 2020 CAF Confederation Cup.

Horoya will lack iconic Burkina Faso forward Aristide Bance, who has retired, but boast a far more experienced squad than Chiefs, making them formidable opponents, even in Soweto.  

Group D

Champions League debutants Teungueth of Senegal stunned three-time African champions Raja Casablanca of Morocco to qualify for the group stage, and were unlucky 2-1 losers at Esperance of Tunisia on matchday 1.

A clearance from a Senegalese hit a teammate on the hand, gifting Esperance a penalty they converted, and goalkeeper Baye Assane later slipped to the ground as he came for a cross and conceded the match-winner.   

Teungueth now face another giant from the north, five-time African champions Zamalek of Egypt, but they will enjoy home advantage as they seek a victory that would shake up the section.

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