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CAF Confederation Cup

Dream aborted for Dreams FC as clinical Zamalek cruise into Confederation Cup final

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The dream is over for Dreams FC. The Ghanaian fairytale makers saw their remarkable journey in the CAF Confederation Cup brought to a shuddering halt by the ruthless cutting edge of Zamalek.

After a goalless first leg in Cairo, Hamza Mathlouthi’s early opener set the Egyptian giants on their way to a 3-0 victory in Kumasi that secured their place in the final with an emphatic dismissal of the competition’s surprise package.

Samson Akinyoola’s sumptuous volley and a late Mustafa Shalaby strike put the seal on a professional away performance as Zamalek underlined their status as continental heavyweights.

For Dreams, an inaugural tilt at African club football’s second-tier competition ends with their heads held high, even if this humbling defeat will sting for some time to come.

Having already dumped out Mali heavyweights Stade Malien en route to the last four, the Ghanaians arrived in Kumasi buoyed by belief they could create yet another monumental upset.

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Those hopes were swiftly extinguished, however, as Mathlouthi continued his hobby of scoring by powering home a back-post header to silence the fans in Kumasi.

The Tunisian defender had netted in Zamalek’s first leg quarter-final success over Modern Future, he repeated the trick after just 12 minutes to put the White Knights firmly in control of the tie.

Akinyoola’s magical left-footed strike just after the midway point of the first half then left Dreams needing to score three times to keep their dream alive.

Experienced striker John Antwi and young Abdul Aziz Issah fluffed good scoring opportunities to bring Dreams FC back into the game before Zamalek goalkeeper Mohamed Awad pulled two saves to deny the home side.

The outstanding Omar Gaber and the tireless Hossam Abdelmaguid went close to increasing Zamalek’s advantage before the break as Zamalek turned the screw with their trademark mix of power and guile.

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Any hopes Dreams harboured of a miraculous comeback were effectively extinguished just before the hour mark, when Shalaby broke his six-month scoring drought in clinical fashion.

The winger had not found the net since October but kept his composure after being slipped in to drill past the helpless Solomon Agbasi and complete the scoring.

For much of the second period it was a case of attack versus defence as Zamalek threatened to run riot while Dreams desperately sought to restore some respectability to the scoreline.

In the end, their historic continental run was ended in abrupt fashion by a Zamalek side painfully clinical on the counter with the Egyptian heavyweights marching on into yet another continental final.

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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

Zamalek win African Confederation Cup on away goals

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Zamalek claimed the African Confederation Cup on away goals after a 1-0 win over Renaissance Berkane in the second leg thanks to Ahmed Hamdy’s first-half strike on Sunday.

The final ended 2-2 on aggregate following the return in Cairo with the Egyptian giants taking the trophy after scoring an away goal in last Sunday’s 2-1 first leg defeat in Morocco.

Hamdy swept the ball home after 23 minutes when Berkane failed to clear a corner but there were chances for both clubs to add more goals.

The Moroccan side finished down to 10 men when defender Hamza El Moussaoui was sent off in added time.

Sunday’s victory ensured Zamalek’s second success in the Confederation Cup. They beat Berkane on penalties after drawing the 2019 final 1-1 on aggregate.

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Egypt can complete a double in the African club competitions on Saturday when Zamalek’s arch domestic rivals Al Ahly host Esperance of Tunisia in the Champions League final second leg. The first leg in Tunis on Saturday ended goalless.

-Reuters

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CAF Confederation Cup

Shehu Dikko, Okey Obi get important roles at Confederation Cup final match

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The duo of Shehu Dikko and Okey Sylvanus Sylvanus Obi, both Nigerians have been appointed as Match Commissioner and Security Officer in Sunday’s final match of the CAF Confederation Cup in Cairo.

Dikko, the former chieftain of the governing body of the Nigeria Premier League is already in Cairo for the final match which pitches Zamalek SC against visiting Morocco’s RS Berkane.

Also already is Okey Obi is in Cairo. He is also the chief legal officer at the Nigeria Football Federation.  

The referee of the match is Issa SY. He handled the quarter-final match of Nigeria and  Angola in the Africa Cup of Nations last February. He will be assisted by compatriots, Djibril Camara and Nouha Bangoura. The fourth official is  Omar Abdulkadir Artan of Somalia.

  The Referee Assessor is Victor Miguel de Freitas Gomes of South Africa while  Joshua Robert Knipp, also of South Africa, is the General Coordinator for the match.

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The Video Assistant Referee is Pierre Ghislain Atcho of Gabon. Aliou Goloko of Senegal the initially designated Media Officer who was reportedly unavailable, has been replaced by Egypt’s Mohamed Elsesy.

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CAF Champions League

BREAKING: CAF adopts Yoruba name, “Ola” for official match ball!

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Confederation of African Football, CAF, has adopted a Nigerian language name of its official match ball for the interclubs competitions. Ahead of this weekend’s blockbuster line-up that sees Africa’s top clubs battle for  CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League top honours, the confederation and its matchball producers, PUMA have unveiled a new match ball called “OLA.”

 In a press statement, CAF explains that “OLA,” means “wealth,” “honour,” and “respect” in Yoruba, and “rise” and “success” in Arabic. It explained that the name was chosen to symbolize the dynamic and energetic nature of African football.

Embodying the spirit of Africa, Ola’s design is inspired by the continent’s vibrant colours, art, and traditions.

OLA will be used this weekend – starting in Tunis when Espérance Sportive de Tunis hosts Al Ahly of Egypt in the first leg of the  CAF Champions League Final and on Sunday when Zamalek hosts RS Berkane in the second leg of the  CAF Confederation Cup final at the Cairo International Stadium. 

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