Algerian clubs ES Setif, USM Alger and El Eulma made history in the CAF Champions League on the weekend by advancing to the group phase of the competition and giving their country an unprecedented three places in the round of the last eight. Morocco's Maghreb Tetouan and Egypt's Smouha gave the region two other clubs in the group phase, with Sudanese teams Al Merrikh and Al Hilal, as well as four-time champions TP Mazembe being the only gatecrashers to the North African party. The winner of the competition will represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year.
Game of the week
ES Setif 2-2 Raja Casablanca, 4-1 on penalties
Last year Sofiane Khedairia was one of the reasons why ES Setif secured their second African title and the goalkeeper was the hero for his side on the weekend as they progressed into the group stage at the expense of Raja Casablanca. El-Hedi Belameiri and Mourad Delhoum gave the home side a two-goal lead, but Abdelilah Hafidi and a last-gasp penalty from Adil Karrouchy made the aggregate score 4-4. In the penalty shoot-out, Khedairia emerged the mach-winner, saving two of the spot-kicks and keeping alive Les Aigles Noirs hopes of successfully defending their title.
Al Ahly 1-0 Moghreb Tetouan, 3-4 on penalties
After losing the first leg in Morocco through an injury-time goal, eight-time champions Al Ahly went into their home leg knowing that they needed to score at least once, and the hosts, once again playing in an empty stadium due to security concerns, went in pursuit of the tie-levelling goal from the start. They were rewarded for their efforts shortly before the break when playmaker Abdalla Said scored from a Basem Ali cross. But it was to remain the only goal of the match and the tie had to be decided in a penalty shoot-out, with the Cairo giants missing twice through Trezeget, who blasted over the bar and captain Hossam Ghaly, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Mohamed El Yousfi.
It was a good weekend for Sudan as both their representatives in the competition advanced, giving the country two teams in the group phase for only the second time in Champions League history. Al-Hilal, who did much of the work in the first-leg already when they won 1-0 in Congo DR against Sanga Balende, added another 1-0 victory to advance 2-0 on aggregate with captain Saif Masawi scoring the only goal of the game. In Rades, Abdalla Duffor gave Al-Merrikh the lead against two-time champions Esperance and although the home side managed to come back for a 2-1 victory, Al-Merrikh advanced to the group phase on the away-goal rule. Esperance had at least reached the last eight in their previous 15 appearances in the competition.
Veteran German coach Otto Pfister managed to take USM Alger into the group phase for the fourth time in their history. The Algerian club, who beat AS Kaloum 2-1 in the first leg, managed to secure a 1-1 draw in Guinea to advance 3-2 on aggregate, while El Eulma gave the North African country a historic third team in the group phase as they beat Tunisian club CS Sfaxien on penalties after losing 1-0 in Sfax. In the final game of the round, Jean Kasusula and Côte d'Ivoire international Roger Assale ensured a 2-1 victory for TP Mazembe against Stade Malien. The four-time champions advanced 4-3 on aggregate.
Player of the week
Egyptian club Smouha have very much played second-fiddle to Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek, but when the draw for the group phase of the Champions League is conducted the Alexandria-based club will be the sole representatives for their country. The player the Blue Wave can thank is Salah Amin, who found the 2-0 winner against Congolese club AC Leopards in injury time to see his side through 2-1 on aggregate. The 33-year-old, who has played once for Egypt, is celebrating his first Champions League campaign in his rookie season with the club making their debut in the event.
5 – The number of matches that holders ES Setif have drawn in their last six Champions League matches since losing the second leg of the semi-final in Lubumbashi against Mazembe last year.
What they said
"We want to make history. Playing in the group stage is not our ultimate objective. We want to go as far as we can and possibly win the competition," Smouha coach Helmi Toulan.
About a week after the closure of the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup Nations where the Elephants won their second title, a celebration of Africa's rising talents in anticipated rousing encounters await the continent as the CAF U-17 Niger 2013 championship gets underway in Niamey on Sunday with the hosts taking on holders and FIFA World Cup record winners Nigeria and debutants Zambia in action against Guinea in Group A.
Group B will be in action on Monday 16 February and opens with South Africa's Amajimbos taking on the defending champions, Cote d'Ivoire's Baby Elephants while Mali and Cameroon square off in the secong of a Municipal stadium double-header.
The AFCON2015, hosted by Equatorial Guinea served some exciting fixtures, memorable goals and statistics and when the continental juniors kick-off at the Seyni Kountche Stadium in Niamey, nothing short of exciting budding talents mesmerizing crowds is awaited.
Football followers can expect the youngsters to serve thrilling encounters with the spills and thrills of this junior spectacle set to thrust Niger onto the international football limelight as the tournament also serves as qualifiers for the FIFA U-17 finals to be hosted by Chile later this year.
The Golden Eaglets are the most successful team in the world at this level, having won the FIFA U-17 championship four times and the African championship twice.
Against the hosts who are making a maiden appearance, the Super Eaglets will be hot favourites but the Junior Mena fancy their chances and are in buoyant mood.
While Nigeria will be attempting to soar to a record third African title, holders Côte d'Ivoire will want to defend their title and follow in the foot-steps of their seniors in claiming a second title. The holders start their campaign on the second day of action against a determined South African side. All but Zambia and Niger have been to the final tournament before. But both the Junior Chipolopolo and Junior Mena reckon that their chances are as good as any of the competing sides and will be out to prove their worth and push for the semi-finals which come with the prize of a FIFA World Cup place.
The young players are fully aware that stardom and excellent performances at these championships would not only bring them African junior glory but lay the foundation for potentially long and brilliant international careers. The world will be watching as Africa's newest stars lay down their first markers of success.
Didier Drogba, current Chelsea F.C. forward, who did not make it on the square was more than happy in the video. Also, as seen in the picture, Drogba hold his head and watched the winning goal score by Ivory Coast’s goalkeeper.
WATCH: Ivory Coast beats Ghana 9 - 8, in penalty shootout, to win the 2015 African Cup Of Nations, hosted by Equatorial Guinea, who was fined by The Confederation of African Football, CAF.
The match between Ghana and Ivory Coast was a fierce match. For in the first half and in the second half both team performed a spectacular game-plays; both Ghana and Ivory Coast has not won the African Cup Of Nation for more than 10 years. 1982 was the last time that Ghana won the African Cup Of Nations, and so as Ivory Coast that won their last African Cup Of Nations in 1992.
Ivory Coast goalkeeper beats Ghana, by saving the last shoot (and two more shoots) and scoring the winner goal against Ghana.
The African Union has commended CAF, Equatorial Guinea and President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for hosting a successful AFCON with Chairperson Dr. Nkhosazana Dlamini Zuma hailing its staging as a demonstration of African unity and solidarity in defeating Ebola.
The AFCON 2015 was hosted against a backdrop of fears of Ebola but the championship recorded no single case of the virus which affected largely three West African nations – Sierra Leona, Guinea and Liberia.
During the AFCON, CAF in partnership with and several top players intensified a campaign demonstrating the continental football mother body's commitment to the global fight against the Ebola virus and raising awareness to implement preventative measures to halt its spread.
The AU asserted that the hosting of the AFCON brushed aside the Ebola threat and hailed CAF for delivering a successful championship which served as a uniting factor for the continent.
Dr Dlamini Zuma congratulated the victorious Ivorian team and runners up Ghana for their brilliant performances. She also commended third and fourth placed teams DRC and hosts Equatorial Guinea respectively.
“African football has over the years improved exponentially and the talent showcased by the two African football giants in the final, was nothing short of the brilliance and great talent of African sports men and women,” said the AU Commission Chairperson who sent a message of congratulations to Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara, the Elephants and Ivorian people for the outstanding victory.
The AU Commission chief echoed her gratitude to Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the Government and people of Equatorial Guinea for successfully hosting the tournament after only two months of preparations; a demonstration of Africa’s determination to defeat the Ebola Virus.
Ivory Coast won their second Nations Cup Sunday night after an 8-7 post match penalty victory over Ghana as Herve Renard became the first coach in the history of the championship to win two title with two different teams; the first with Zambia in 2012.
Ghana duo, Christian Atsu was adjudged the Orange Man of the competition, the prize for the best player of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015. It was double delight for Atsu, as his goal against Guinea at the semis was named the Nissan Goal of the Tournament.
Also, Andre Ayew went away with the Pepsi Highest Scorer, for the player to have scored the most goals at the tournament. Ayew scored thrice and provided the highest number of assists.
Ghana rookie forward Kwesi Appiah was also named Samsung Fair Player of the tournament.
DR Congo won the Fair Play prize.
Fair Play of the tournament DR Congo
Orange Man of the Competition Christian Atsu (Ghana)
Nissan Goal of the tournament Christian Atsu (against Guinea)
Pepsi Highest Scorer Andre Ayew (Ghana)