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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. 

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.

CAF Champions League

Al Ahly to face Esperance in African Champions League final

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Ahly, Wydad set for Mundial de Clubes FIFA debut – Sundowns, Esperance eyeing other slots

Defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt will take on perennial rivals Esperance of Tunisia in this year’s African Champions League final after winning their semi-finals on Friday.

Al Ahly, who have won five of the last seven editions and a record 11 in total, overcame TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Cairo and Esperance pulled off a surprise 1-0 win over South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria.

Al Ahly won 3-0 after a goalless draw in the first leg in Lubumbashi for a comfortable aggregate triumph while Esperance’s 20-year-old defender Raed Bouchniba hammered home a clinical shot in the 57th minute to earn the Tunisians a 1-0 away win and 2-0 aggregate victory.

The match was delayed by 70 minutes after a lightning strike in South Africa’s capital knocked out some of the floodlights amid a heavy thunderstorm.

Sundowns won the new African Football League this season and were one of the favourites for the Champions League but fell short of the final for an eighth season in a row.

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Esperance’s 20-year-old goalkeeper Amanallah Memmich produced fine saves as the South African forwards fluffed their lines and the win also ensured a place for Esperance in next year’s Club World Cup in the U.S.

Al Ahly took until the 68th minute to break the deadlock against Mazembe when defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim scored.

Wessam Abou Ali added a second in the 83rd minute, stretching out his leg to apply a clever finish and Akram Tawfiq confirmed their superiority with a stoppage-time third.

Esperance host the first leg of the final on May 18 with the return in Cairo seven days later.

Esperance won the last of their four Champions League titles in 2019 and have been runners-up four times.

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CAF Champions League

CAF Champions League narrows to four teams

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CAF Champions League Quarter-Finals journey mapped out

From the original 54 teams from 42 countries that began the race last year, the CAF Champions League has now narrowed to four teams as a whopping 50 have been eliminated.

The four elite clubs in the semi-finals are Al Ahly of Egypt, Esperance Sportive de Tunis of Tunisia, South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and TP Mazembe of DR Congo.

Title holders and record champions Al Ahly are still on track to defend their title as they beat Simba SC in Cairo to secure their place while four-time winners Esperance Sportive de Tunis were made to labour hard against Asec Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire.

The reigning African Football League (“AFL”) Champions and 2025/16 winners Mamelodi Sundowns were pushed to the end by Tanzania’s Young Africans in South Africa.

Five-time winners TP Mazembe of DR Congo pulled one of the best performances this weekend with a 2-1 away win over Atletico Petroleos of Luanda after the first leg ended goalless.

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The semis will be played on home and away basis on 19-20 April 2024 (first leg) with the Second Leg scheduled for 26-27 April 2024.

In the first semi-final, Al Ahly (Egypt) will play TP Mazembe (DR Congo) in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.  Esperance Sportive de Tunis will play Mamelodi Sundowns in the second semi-final.

CAF will announce the dates and kick-off dates in due course.

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Ahly Edge Closer To CL Semifinals With Narrow Victory Over Simba –

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Ahly Edge Closer To CL Semifinals With Narrow Victory Over Simba -

Egyptian giants Ahly took a significant stride towards securing a spot in the CAF Champions League semifinals following their hard-fought 1-0 win against Tanzania’s Simba on Friday, thanks to an early goal by midfielder Ahmed “Koka” Nabil.

Right from the start, the hosts launched relentless attacks, aiming to find an early breakthrough. However, Ahly’s resolute and well-organized defense thwarted all of their attempts.

Simba’s first notable chance came when midfielder Sadio Kanouté headed a cross from Clatous Chama following a corner, but his effort sailed over the bar from close range.

Just four minutes into the game, Ahly defender Mohamed Hany found himself in possession on the right side of Simba’s field. He cut inside and delivered a cross that was mishandled by the defense, leading to a powerful shot from Koka. The ball ricocheted off the head of the Simba goalkeeper, struck the post, and ultimately found the back of the net.

Despite Simba’s control of the match, as they pushed forward in search of an equalizer, Ahly’s solid defense and the heroics of goalkeeper Mostafa Shobier denied them any scoring opportunities. Ahly relied on swift counterattacks but their attempts to extend their lead fell short.

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Shobier produced a magnificent save in the 39th minute, blocking Che Malone’s right-footed shot from the center of the box. He came to the rescue again just before halftime, denying Sadio Kanouté’s right-footed shot from the right side of the box and turning it into a corner.

In injury time, Shobier made another brilliant save, stopping Saïdi Ntibazonkiza’s close-range effort, which rebounded to Shomari Kapombe, who shot the ball high over the bar.

In the second half, Simba continued to dominate proceedings but failed to find the equalizing goal despite their persistent efforts.

Ahly coach Marcel Koller made a tactical double substitution in the 67th minute, introducing Reda Slim for Hussein El-Shahat and Taher Mohamed Taher in place of Percy Tau.

The move injected new energy into Ahly’s attack, with the Moroccan talisman creating two opportunities for the Red Devils.

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Koller later made another double substitution, bringing on Kahraba for Modeste and Afsha for Attia.

In injury time, Kahraba had a chance to extend Ahly’s lead when he received a long ball from Afsha, but he struggled to control it. A minute later, Kahraba received a cross from Slim and entered the box, but once again his finishing touch eluded him.

With this narrow victory, Ahly now hold the advantage and move closer to securing a spot in the semifinals, with the second leg taking place in Cairo on Friday.

-Ahram

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