Only Group B of the 2019-20 Total CAF Champions League will go to the final match day undecided, as all three other groups revealed their secrets when the penultimate match day was concluded on Sunday.
Former champions TP Mazembe and Zamalek (Group A), Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad (Group C), Esperance and Raja (Group D) all secured their quarterfinals places, while two other former champions Al Ahly and Etoile du Sahel compete with former runner ups Al Hilal for the remaining two tickets in Group B.
Moreover, Mazembe and holders Esperance confirmed their status as group winners, while it’s yet to be decided between Sundowns and Wydad when they lock horns next weekend.
Egyptian giants Zamalek and DR Congo counterparts TP Mazembe settled for a goalless draw in Cairo. Having won the title five times each, a lot was expected from both sides, but it was a barren stalemate after a story of rare chances.
Zamalek joined already qualified Mazembe to the knockout stages 24 hours later, when Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto only managed an away 1-1 draw at Zambia’s Zesco United. Winston Kalendo gave Zesco the lead after 50 minutes, only for Ary Papel to equalize 20 minutes from time.
The final matchday is a mere formality with Mazembe and Zamalek securing top two spots in that order.
01.02.2020 Lubumbashi TP Mazembe (DR Congo) Zesco United (Zambia)
01.02.2020 Luanda Primeiro de Agosto (Angola) Zamalek (Egypt)
Going to the final match day, it remains the only undecided group, confirming its Group of Death tag. Sudan’s Al Hilal returned from Bulawayo with a priceless away victory at already eliminated Platinum of Zimbabwe to revive their qualification hopes. Substitute Mohamed Eldai scored six from time to raise the Sudanese giants tally to 9 points.
In Cairo, record champions Al Ahly needed a first half goal from Junior Ajayi to overcome Tunisian rivals Etoile du Sahel. The Egyptian champions overtook Etoile to the top spot with 10 points, forcing a dramatic finale to the group next weekend, where they need a draw at least in Omdurman. Etoile also needs a point against Platinum at home, while victory only will send Hilal to the quarters.
01.02.2020 Omdurman Al Hilal (Sudan) Al Ahly (Egypt)
01.02.2020 Rades Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) Platinum (Zimbabwe)
Last season losing finalists Wydad joined already qualified Mamelodi Sundowns to the next round. The Moroccan giants overcame Algerian neighbors USM Alger 3-1 in Casablanca to move to nine points. Walid El Karti, Badie Aouk and Kazadi Kasengu scored in the opening half, with Mohamed Meftah scoring a consolation goal for the visitors 10 minutes from time.
South African giants Sundowns scored deep into injury time to avoid defeat at Angola’s Petro de Luanda. Gaston Sirino gave The Brazilians the lead from the spot, only for Ricardo Job equalizing for the hosts in the same fashion. Jacques Tuyisenge gave the hosts a second half lead, but Motjeka Madisha saved the 2016 champions from their first defeat at the last breath.
Sundowns needs a home draw with Wydad next weekend to finish as group winners, while only victory for the Moroccans will see them finishing on top.
01.02.2020 Pretoria Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) Wydad (Morocco)
01.02.2020 Blida USM Alger (Algeria) Petro de Luanda (Angola)
Holders Esperance of Tunisia continued their unbeaten run for the 20th Champions League successive game, managing a home 2-2 draw to Morocco’s Raja in Rades to guarantee the group’s top spot. Abdelraouf Benguit gave the hosts a first half lead, but Raja responded twice through Fabrice Ngah and Badr Banoun after the break. Substitute Fadi Ben Choug scored a few seconds after coming in to savage a point for last two seasons’ champions.
In Kinshasa, DR Congo’s AS Vita had their first group victory, defeating Algeria’s JS Kabylie 4-1 in what was to be only a morale boast. Djuma Shabani, Yannick Bangala, Ernest Luzolo and Fiston Mayele scored for the Congolese giants, while Rezki Hamroune scored a consolation goal for the visitors.
The final match day games are just for academic use.
01.02.2020 Casablanca Raja (Morocco) AS Vita (DR Congo)
01.02.2020 Tizi Ouzou JS Kabylie (Algeria) Esperance (Tunisia)
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)