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CAF Champions League

CafCL preview: Wydad in Horoya challenge, Constantine attempt miraculous comeback against Esperance

12:29 am AEST 13/4/19
Wydad Casablanca v Mamelodi Sundowns, Achraf Dari and Hlompho Kekana, March 2019
Constantine are hoping to sensationally overturn the 3-2 away loss they suffered at home last weekend, while Horoya are eager to upset Wydad in Rabat.

Horoya are keen to make Caf Champions League history when they clash with Wydad Casablanca in a quarter-final, second leg match at the Stade Prince Moulay Abdallah on Saturday.

The Guinean champions have never reached the Caf Champions League semi-finals before and are attempting to achieve that feat in Rabat.

Having ended at the quarter-final stage last season, where they were booted out by Al Ahly, Horoya are again 90 minutes away from making history.

They arrived in Morocco on the backdrop of a 0-0 first half result registered in Conakry last weekend.

With at least a scoring draw enough to take them to the last four, Horoya forward Boniface Haba is confident of upsetting Wydad away from home.

"We know what's coming on Saturday. Everyone is aware of the importance of this game, after everything had been tried in Conakry. We will show them that we are not afraid of them, trying to score first," Haba told the Horoya website.

"It's the game of my life ... I dream to say one day that I played the final of the Champions League, it would be a huge honor. Better yet, lifting the trophy is another exceptional thing. Personally with the help of my teammates I will do everything to have a great match. I believe because we know this team."

But Wydad Casablanca will not be pushovers in this match considering their stature in this tournament.

The Moroccans lifted the Caf Champions League trophy in 2017 and their experience could help them could pass through the Horoya hurdle.

Elsewhere in Lumbumbashi, Tout Puissant Mazembe and Simba Sports Club confront each other on the backdrop of another goalless first leg draw.

Just like Horoya, Simba are seeking a maiden semi-final appearance and face an experienced Mazembe, five Caf Champions League titles to their name.

Simba's Belgian coach Patrick Aussems was expected to arrive in Lubumbashi without injured Ivorian defender Serge Pascal Wawa, who lasted just eight minutes in the reverse fixture in Dar es Salaam.

Ugandan defender Murushidi Juko is expected to step in for Wawa.

Simba might draw inspiration from Angolan giants Primiero Agosto, who pulled an upset in Lubumbashi last season and eliminated TP Mazembe at the quarter-final round.

But Pamphile Mihayo's TP Mazembe might not want the similar catastrophe to hit them once again.

With the experience of veteran forward Tresor Mputu and his in-form striking partner Jackson Muleka, Mazembe have enough arsenal to proceed to the last four.

In Rades, CS Constantine will make what would be a spectacular bid to overturn the 3-2 defeat they succumbed to against Esperance last weekend at home.

The Algerians were beaten 3-2 in their own backyard and clawing their way from such a defeat against the defending champions appears to be a mountain too high to climb.

But earlier this week, Denis Lavagne expressed confidence that they can stage a miraculous comeback in Rades, where they need a two-goal victory margin to proceed to the next round.

However, Esperance are the only unbeaten side in the Champions League this season. 

While Constantine have been oozing with confidence of upsetting Esperance, the Tunisians on the other hand would be trying to avoid a result that would be a humiliating defeat.

Esperance will welcome back veteran defender Sameh Derbali from injury after missing the first leg, in what could be a timely boost ahead of this crucial tie.

However, captain Khalil Chemmam and fellow defender Ali Machani remain on the sidelines injured, while forwards Belaili, Yassine Khenissi and Anice Badri are also in a fitness race fitness ahead of the match.

Meanwhile, Al Ahly host Mamelodi Sundowns in Suez without defender Saad Samir and goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy due to injury, as they try the Herculean task of overturning the 5-0 first leg defeat.

Samir has not recovered after getting injured 20 minutes into the first leg in Pretoria while Ekramy has also failed to mend on time for this match.

Also not part of this match would be midfielder Ahmed Hamoudi who has also been left out for technical reasons.

While nullifying a 5-0 defeat seems as an almost impossible challenge, Al Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafeez is refusing to throw in the towel as yet.

“The encounter against Sundowns is a football game at the end of the day. We will play bravely and roughly. We will enter the game as a big team and we will finish it as a big team,” Abdel-Hafeez was quoted as saying by Al Ahram.

“Our history says that we can come back against Sundowns and this is definitely what we are targeting."