Zamalek: Road to the final

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The 2019/20 Total CAF Champions League is the 56th edition of Africa’s premier club football tournament organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and the 24th edition under the current CAF Champions League title.

This season was to be the first to follow an August–to-May schedule, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee on 20 July 2017. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the semi-finals and final of the competition to be postponed until October and November 2020.

Moreover, for the first time, the final will be played as a single match at a venue pre-selected by CAF, and was originally to be played at the Japoma Stadium in Douala, Cameroon. However during the suspension of the tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cameroon decided to withdraw from hosting, and instead, the final will be played in Cairo, Egypt, tonight (21:00).

 

The winners of the 2019/20 CAF Champions League will then qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup, and earn the right to play against the winners of the 2019/20 CAF Confederation Cup in the CAF Super Cup. 

North African teams have dominated the competition for decades and during the group stage draw it was expected that whichever group they are drawn into they will be able to make their way out of it. Zamalek was drawn in Group A against TP Mazembe, Clube Desportivo de Agosto and Zambian giants ZESCO United. The Egyptian giants managed to get 2 wins, 3 draws and only lost one game in the six group games played which was good enough for them to finish second behind TP Mazembe with 9 points. 

In the knockout round Zamalek was pitted against Tunisian giants Esperance de Tunis who had finished top of group D. Because of Esperance’s dominance in the competition for the past two seasons they were expected to defeat the Egyptians, but it was not to be as Zamalek showed intent from the get-go with a 3-1 win in the first leg followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat in the second leg which was not good enough for Esperance who got knocked out with a 3-2 aggregate, Zamalek progressed to the semi-final to face Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca.

It was too easy for Zamalek in the semi-final as they beat Casablanca 1-0 in the first leg and 3-1 in the second to advance with an aggregate of 4-1 in the tie. The win meant that the club had booked a spot in the final against rivals Al Ahly who they face tonight in the derby which promises to be fierce and is expected to produce fireworks. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Al Ahly and Zamalek players test positive for COVID-19

By Prince Sobayeni 

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