WHO LIFT CAF CONFEDERATION CUP?

WHO LIFT CAF CONFEDERATION CUP?

BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

 

The first of two legs to determine the champions of Africa’s second tier club competition holds at the 45,000 capacity Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca.

 

Nigerians will understandably support DR Congo’s AS Vita Club to lift the title; their opponents Raja Casablanca being responsible for the exit of Enyimba in the semifinals on 3-1 aggregate.

 

Going down memory lane also, it was a Moroccan team (FAR Rabat) that denied Dolphins the CAF Confederation Cup in 2005. Dolphins, which have since been merged with Sharks to form Rivers United, pipped FAR 1-0 in Port Harcourt on November 6 of that year but got humiliated 3-0 in Rabat 13 days later.

 

DR Congo have also incurred the wrath of Nigerians. TP Mazembe inflicted pains on a Nigerian club in the final of a continental club competition.

 

In the 2009 edition of CAF Champions League, TP Mazembe denied Heartland the opportunity of becoming the second Nigerian team to win the CAF Champions League after Enyimba’s back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2004. In the first leg at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, Heartland managed to win 2-1. Losing the reverse fixture 0-1 in Lubumbashi, meant that TP Mazembe won that title for the third time on away goal advantage.

 

AS Vita Club’s journey in Africa this year started at the CAF Champions League where they bundled out Malawi’s Mighty Wanderers 6-1 at the preliminary round but lost 2-3 aggregate to Morocco’s Difaâ Hassani d’el-Jadida 2-3 to be relegated to the Confederation Cup.

 

In the playoff, AS Vita Club, the current champions of the Linafoot (DR Congo’s top flight league), walloped neighbouring Congo Republic’s La Mancha 6-1 aggregate and were paired with tonight’s opponents Raja Casablanca in the group stage.

 

In the first leg in Casablanca, both sides played goalless, while AS Vita Club prevailed at home 2-0 in the return match. Raja however won the group, while AS Vita Club qualified for the quarterfinals as runners-up.

 

Another Moroccan team RS Berkane were Vita Club’s victims in the quarterfinals which they won 4-2, while Al-Masry of Egypt fell 0-4 in the last four.

 

This is Vita Club’s first time in the final of any CAF club tournament since winning the 1973 African Cup of Champions Clubs. They will be seeking to keep the CAF Confederation Cup at home as TP Mazembe were champions last year following a successful defence of the title they won the previous year.

 

Raja, on their part, have three CAF Champions League and one Confederation Cup shields in their trophy cabinet.

 

The Moroccan club eliminated FC Nouadhibou of Mauritania and Zambia’s Zanaco on their way to the group stage of the competition. Having won Group A that included AS Vita Club, Raja knocked out CARA Brazzaville of Congo Republic 3-1 in the quarterfinals before coming to Enyimba International Stadium, Aba to beat the home side 1-0 and consolidated 2-1 in Casablanca.

 

The winners of the Confederation Cup this year will have achieved a first for their home association as it will field three teams as against the maximum two in the 2018/19 edition.

 

As a result of the abridged nature of the 2018/19 CAF club tournaments, the identify of the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup winners was not known when the draw was conducted on November 3 ahead of the preliminary round which starts next Tuesday.

 

With AS Vita Club having already qualified for the Champions League, SM Sanga Balende, the fourth placed side in the 2017/18 domestic league in DR Congo, will be listed in the 2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup if their compatriots overcome Raja Casablanca. They will join DC Motema Pembe and AS Nyuki as DR Congo’s contingent to the competition. But while those other teams will start from the preliminary round, SM Sanga Balende will receive a bye into the first round.

 

The same situation will apply if Raja lift the CAF Confederation Cup. Unlike AS Vita Club however, Raja have failed to qualify for any CAF competition but will go straight to the first round of the next Confederation Cup if they win the current edition, the same stage RS Berkane, another Moroccan representatives, will start their CAF Confederation  Cup journey. What will them be Morocco’s third team Hassania Agadir will line up at the preliminary stage.

 

Fixture…

CAF Confederation Cup (Final first leg): Raja Casablanca (Morocco) v AS Vita Club (DR Congo) (8pm)

 

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