Former African champions battling for CAF Cup survival
Three former African champions are among the clubs fighting for survival in the CAF Confederation Cup last-32 seconds legs this weekend.
Club Africain of Tunisia host Renaissance Berkane of Morocco needing to wipe out a 3-1 first-leg loss while Raja Casablanca of Morocco are away to Nouadhibou of Mauritania having only drawn 1-1 at home.
Five-time African champions Zamalek of Egypt must overcame a 2-1 deficit when they host international rookies Welayta Dicha of Ethiopia.
AFP Sport also highlights two other clubs in danger -- 2012 Confederation Cup runners-up Djoliba of Mali and former African Cup Winners Cup title-holders Daring Club Motema Pembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Tunis outfit must shackle Berkane striker Ayoub el Kaabi if they are to overcome the deficit in one of the most intriguing return matches in the second-tier competition. El Kaabi rose from obscurity to be named the best player at the recent African Nations Championship, scoring a record nine goals to help hosts Morocco lift the trophy.
A clash between clubs from DR Congo and Equatorial Guinea would normally be a foregone conclusion in favour of the Congolese, a much stronger African football nation. But after falling behind on the road, first-time qualifiers Deportivo Niefang levelled to secure a 1-1 draw and now have home advantage and a chance to cause a shock.
Malian clubs have had disastrous 2018 CAF campaigns with three of the four eliminated in the preliminary rounds and Djoliba are away to APR of Rwanda hanging on to a 1-0 lead. Djihad Bizimana and Issa Bigirimana are potential match winners for the Kigali military club having notched five goals between them in the previous round.
Three-time African champions Raja were expected to thrash Nouadhibou in Casablanca, but when they eventually took the lead through Mohamed Khaldane, it lasted only nine minutes. A Mauritanian team that banks heavily on Ely Cheikh Voullany for goals have already claimed one notable scalp this year in three-time CAF title winners Africa Sports of the Ivory Coast.
The "White Knights" from Cairo travelled to Ethiopia confident of obtaining at least a draw on the back of an impressive domestic victory run under new coach Ihab Galal. But the Egyptians battled on a pitch that reportedly resembled a ploughed field and were sunk by a late Yared Dawit goal.
© 2018 AFP