Caf Confederation Cup: Thabang Monare & star men from MD1

Thabang Monare, Bidvest Wits, 2019
Goal’s Ed Dove picks out three players who impressed him during the first round of group-stage matches

The Caf Confederation Cup group stage began this weekend, with a series of fascinating fixtures across Africa.

In this feature, Goal’s Ed Dove picks out the three players who impressed him the most during the opening weekend—and the stats that underpinned their success.

Thabang Monare

Bidvest Wits endured a testing opening group-stage bout, as they were held 0-0 at home against Horoya in another match in which they failed to find the net.

The Clever Boys created ample chances, however, and largely controlled the contest against a more physical, rugged Malian side, who came to South Africa content to take a draw.

Monare was among Wits’ most impressive players, with his passing accuracy central to the Students’ measured performance.

In fact, the midfielder ended the bout with a pass accuracy of 94.7 percent, evidence of his precision with the ball at his feet.

Impressively, no player who made at least 50 passes during the opening game week achieved a better rate of return than Monare.

Omar Namsaoui

In terms of offensive output during the weekend’s Confed Cup, it was Namsaoui of Renaissance Berkane who truly caught the eye.

Against Benin’s ESAE this weekend, the physical Moroccan created seven goalscoring chances during an outstanding display in which he enjoyed great influence in wide areas and again tested the opponents with his quality from set pieces.

For context, the most goalscoring chances that any other player created this weekend was five, demonstrating how superior Namsaoui was to his rivals in the tournament.

Notably, his seven-key pass return this weekend was the most by a single player in the competition since Namsaoui himself created eight goalscoring chances in the heavyweight clash against SC Zamalek in May.

Namsaoui was central to Berkane’s 3-0 victory over ESAE, but can he replicate this feat in the higher-profile bouts to come against Zanaco and DC Motema Pembe?

Tarek Bouabta

While Monare was the pass-master of matchday one, none of the continent’s top stars in the continent’s second-tier club competition made a greater defensive contribution than Bouabta.

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AC Paradou weren’t able to beat Ivorians San Pedro away from home, but things would surely have been trickier had they not had the 28-year-old pulling remarkable defensive duties.

No player across the Confed Cup made more than Bouabta’s five interceptions, while only one—N’namdi Amairo—made more clearances than the Algerian, who got rid of danger on a whopping 11 occasions away from home.

Bouabta’s defensive qualities will make Paradou particularly tricky to beat when they go up against Hassania Agadir and Enyimba in the battles to come.