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CAF Confederation Cup

Rangers Face Star-Studded Zesco

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

When Nigerian champions, Enugu Rangers line out on Sunday to face Zesco United, they will virtually playing against a combined national teams of Zambia and Kenya.
At least, six of Zesco United players feature for the nationals teams. In the defence line will be Fackson Kapumbu who featured against Super Eagles in the last October World Cup qualifier. He also featured in the left wingback when Zambia were held to 1-1 draw last November by current African champions, Cameroon.
Another player to watch out for is ageing Winston Kalengo. Investigation reveals that the 31 year old has stayed very long in the domestic league of Zambia. In his 11 season in the top Zambian league division, he had scored over 103 goals.
Rangers’ defenders will have to watch out for his strength in the penalty box as his acceleration when next to a defender is terrific. He was in the team that faced the Super Eagles last year.
Zesco goalkeeper, Jacob Banda was on the bench as reserve for Kennedy Mweene when Nigeria faced Zambia last year.
Eyes must also be on Kondwani Mtonga who has been a Chipolopolo player for eight years running. He came in as a substitute in the match lost to Nigeria last year.
Apart from that quartet who are Zambian national team players, there are also the trio Harambee of Kenya stars. These are Anthony Akumu, David “Calabar” Owino and Jesse Were. The trio are in the current national team of Kenya.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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CAF Confederation Cup

Dreams FC dreams coming true? … secure goalless draw against Zamalek in Cairo

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Ghana’s team in the CAF Confederation Cup, Dreams FC, is living up to their name. The continental debutants are indeed dreaming dreams. If this is a dream, please don’t wake them up. They have just upset one of the powerhouses in Africa.  

The Egyptian giants Zamalek failed to make their dominance count as they were held to a goalless draw by  Dreams FC in the first leg of their  Confederation Cup semi-final in Cairo on Sunday.

The White Knights enjoyed the better of the chances in Cairo but lacked a cutting edge in the final third against their well-organised opponents.

Portuguese coach Jose Gomes will be concerned by his side’s profligacy ahead of next Sunday’s return in Kumasi, where an away goal for Dreams could prove pivotal.

Zamalek applied plenty of early pressure, with Shikabala, Mostafa Shalaby and Ahmed Hamdi all going close to breaking the deadlock before the midway point of the first half.

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Dreams goalkeeper Solomon Agbasi had to be alert to keep out efforts from Shikabala and Travis Mutyaba as Zamalek’s wastefulness in front of goal continued.

The visitors started to gain a foothold and went close through John Antwi, whose powerful strike was well blocked by the impressive Hossam Abdelmaguid.

Shalaby was replaced by Benin international Samson Akinyoola at the break but Zamalek’s frustrations mounted, with the hosts struggling to carve out clear-cut openings.

Akinyoola dragged an effort wide before Shikabala forced a smart save from Agbasi as the offside flag repeatedly came to Dreams’ rescue.

There was still time for Ibrahima Ndiaye to rattle the crossbar late on, but ultimately Zamalek could not find a way through the stubborn Ghanaian rearguard.

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Dreams will fancy their chances of reaching the final on away goals if they can shut out Zamalek again in Kumasi next weekend.

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CAF Confederation Cup

Algeria’s USM may forfeit Confederation Cup duel to Morocco’s RS Berkane

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RS Berkane players stranded at the Houari Boumediene Airport in Algeria

The anticipated tense Confederation Cup first leg semi-final fixture of USM Alger and Morocco’s RS Berkane did not hold as scheduled on Sunday night following the confiscation of the Moroccan team’s jerseys and equipment by the Algerian aughorutues despite CAF’s spirited efforts to see the items released.

The Confederation has now issued a statement that the matter has been referred to the ‘competent bodies’. CAF apologized for any inconvenience caused to their sponsors, TV partners and the supporters. 

It is most likely that the Algerian team would forfeit the match. The Algerians lately have turned the African football arena into political field such that the Moroccan team as defending champions of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) were denied entry to defend their title last year in Algeria.

Similarly, in the quarter-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup with Nigeria’s Rivers United, the Algerians frustrated the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) by confisticating the CAF equipment.

CAF issued the following statement over the incident early this month: “Due to circumstances beyond CAF’s control, there will be no Video Assistant Referee (VAR)  technology at the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup fixture USM Alger and Rivers United in Algeria today.

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“For the last few days, CAF has been negotiating with Algerian Authorities to release the VAR equipment that has been kept by Authorities at the entry Port in Oran, Algeria since Wednesday morning.

“Regrettably, the VAR equipment was only released at 19h30 today making it impossible to drive the 400km distance between Oran and Algiers and make it on time for the match.”  

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CAF Confederation Cup

CAF compels Algeria to release Morocco’s RS Berkane equipment

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The contentious jersey

Algeria’s USM Alger may get a technical knockout from the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final first leg match slated for Sunday if Algerian authorities continue their seizure of jerseys and equipment of Morocco’s RS Berkane.

The Moroccans arrived Algeria on Friday but had their equipment and  jerseys seized on account that the attires are depicting a complete map of Morocco with the southern provinces. 

This led to the Moroccan delegation getting stranded at the Houari Boumediene Airport in Algiers, as they demanded the the return of their jerseys and sports equipment confiscated by Algerian security forces before entering Algerian territory.

CAF has now intervened and informed the Algerians thus: “We wish to inform you that the committee has decided that the jersey in question complies with CAF Statutes and regulations.

“Therefore, we hereby inform you that the club RS Berkane is authorized to use the jerseys during the mentioned match.

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“In this regard, we request the Algerian Football Federation to take all necessary measures to facilitate the release of the equipment in question from customs as a matter of urgency in order to avoid disrupting the organizational aspects of the match. We count on your usual cooperation.”

The match, the first leg of the semi-finals of the Confederation Cup is scheduled for 5pm, on Sunday.

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