Johannesburg (AFP) – Former title-holders Renaissance Berkane of Morocco, Simba of Tanzania and Al Ittihad of Libya filled the three quarter-finals places up for grabs in the CAF Confederation Cup at the weekend.
Berkane edged ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast 1-0, Simba trounced Gendarmerie Nationale of Niger 4-0 and Ittihad drew 0-0 with Orlando Pirates of South Africa.
Other former title-holders, TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Al Masry and Pyramids of Egypt, Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya and Pirates had secured last-eight places ahead of the final matchday.
A draw in Cairo on Tuesday will decide the quarter-finals line-up with the second seeds — the four group runners-up — hosting the first legs on April 17 and travelling the following weekend.
Apart from the Simba scoring spree, headed by two-goal Crispin Mugalu in Dar es Salaam, goals were scarce with eight matches producing just 11.
Most final-matchday interest centred on Group D with Berkane, Simba, ASEC and Gendarmerie all in contention for top-two finishes.
Home advantage proved decisive, although there was little to choose between Berkane and ASEC with DR Congo-born Chadrack Lukombe converting a 28th-minute penalty.
Gendarmerie held Simba for 62 minutes, then collapsed as Malian Sadio Kanoute broke the deadlock before Congolese Mugalu netted twice and Saidu Hamisu conceded an own-goal.
The biggest surprise was the failure of Pyramids, runners-up and semi-finalists in the last two editions of the second-tier African club compeitition, to top Group A.
– Dramatic win –
They had to settle for second place behind Ahly Tripoli despite a dramatic 1-0 win over Zanaco of Zambia in Cairo with Islam Issa grabbing a final-minute winner.
Ahly forced a 0-0 draw away to record three-time Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia in Rades and pipped Pyramids on head-to-head records.
The Libyans could face compatriots Ittihad in the quarter-finals after their Tripoli neighbours enjoyed considerable luck when holding Pirates in Soweto.
Goalkeeper Muad Allafi struggled when the ball was in the air while Pirates’ leading scorer in Africa this year, defender Bandile Shandu, fluffed a great chance by shooting tamely.
Drawing lifted Ittihad to 11 points in Group B, two behind Pirates but one ahead of JS Saoura from Algeria, who finished with a 2-0 away win over Royal Leopard of Eswatini.
After sensationally eliminating 2021 runners-up JS Kabylie of Algeria on away goals in a play-off, Leopard lost all six group games.
They were handicapped by having to stage home matches in South African city Mbombela because no stadium in the tiny kingdom of Eswatini meets international standards.
Masry surrendered top spot in Group C to Mazembe after falling 2-0 in the southern Congolese mining hub of Lubumbashi with Adam Nzali scoring twice.
It was an encouraging outcome for Mazembe, who have won 11 CAF titles but recently lost many of the ageing stars who made the Ravens a powerful international force during the past decade.
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