CAF Champions League semi-final crackers roll off

THE CAF Champions League semifinals this weekend will feature an all-star cast of the last four winners, TP Mazembe, Mamelodi Sundowns, Wydad Casablanca and Esperance.

It is the first time since the premier African club competition debuted 55 years ago that the penultimate phase has featured the last four champions.

Trophy-holders Esperance of Tunisia are on a five-match Champions League winning streak, while Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo have gone six games unbeaten.

Esperance will meet Mazembe in Rades today with both second legs scheduled for next Saturday.

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This showdown between clubs who have won eight Champions League finals between them is a rematch of a 2012 semifinal, which was decided in favour of Esperance by a solitary goal.

It could be equally close this season as both clubs have conceded few goals with Mazembe picking the ball from their net only six times in 10 matches and keeping six clean sheets.

Esperance have let in five goals in eight matches, and just one of those was conceded at the Stade Olympique on the outskirts of Tunis, an intimidating cauldron of noise and flares.

Crowd trouble spoilt the semifinal and final victories of Esperance in Tunisia last year, resulting in the side having to stage two group matches behind closed doors.

A contrast between the teams is that no Esperance player, including 2018 Champions League leading scorer Anice Badri, has scored more than twice during this campaign.

Mazembe veteran Tresor Mputu and young Jackson Muleka have been more successful than the Tunisians, scoring five each of 19 goals in total.

Wydad were expected to face Sundowns in Rabat yesterday. – AFP

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