Following the 2-1 home win by Generation Foot of Senegal against Zamalek of Egypt in the first game of the round of 32 in the African Champions League, the return leg in Egypt was supposed to determine who will be going to the group stage. But that second game was never played due to the refusal of Generation Foot to play the game after it was changed from Saturday to Sunday.
The match was initially supposed to take place on Saturday at Petrosport Stadium in Cairo. However, Generation Foot were told by the African Football Confederation (CAF) just 24 hours before kick-off that the game will be postponed and the location will be changed for security reasons in the capital.
The Senegalese club reacted by going to Petrosport Stadium on Saturday, assuming no rearrangements were made by CAF. Generation Foot refused to go to Borg Al-Arab Stadium despite being offered transportation by Zamalek. Zamalek’s players went to the stadium, took the field and waited for the Senegalese team to arrive but they never showed up. The referee then whistled for the end of the match, which should have ended 3-0 in Zamalek’s favour following the opponent’s no-show. However, CAF posted a message on its Website seeming to indicate that there was still more to come.
“CAF has been closely following the situation regarding the second leg of the second preliminary round, of the Total CAF Champions League 2019/20, between Zamalek (Egypt) and Generation Foot (Senegal), which was due to take place over the weekend. The relevant CAF bodies and representatives are currently examining the situation and further information and updates will be issued in due time.”
CAF sent a letter to the Egyptian Football Federation informing them that the concerned committee will review the position of Zamalek and Generation Foot after learning that three matches were held in Cairo in the Egyptian league during that time despite the security concerns. The final decision will be taken after the meeting of the competent committee which will take place on October 8.
Meanwhile, according to cafonline, the draw of the group stages is scheduled to take place on 9 October in Cairo. The draw will see nine teams who, as described by cafonline, have lifted the Holy Grail of African club football at least once, including holders Esperance of Tunisia who survived a scare from Chadian opponents Elect Sport, coming from behind to win 2-1, and 3-2 on aggregate to achieve a fourth successive appearance at the group stage.
Esperance are joined by compatriots Etoile du Sahel who despite finishing with 10 men overturned a 2-0 loss from the first leg against Ghana’s Asante Kotoko, beating the latter 3-0 in Monastir to go through.
Moroccan duo Raja Club Athletic and Wydad Athletic Club, both former winners, are also through. The last time the two sides were at the group stage together was in 2011, with Wydad went all the way to the final before losing to Esperance 1-0 on aggregate.
After an eight-year absence, JS Kabylie of Algeria, winners in 1981 and 1990, are back to the group stage, joined by rivals, USM Alger, losing finalists in 2015.
Record eight-time winners Ahly of Egypt have qualified for the group stage for the fifth season on the trot. They achieved the feat after beating Equatoguineans Cano Sport 4-0 to complete a 6-0 aggregate.
The Reds had won 2-0 in Equatorial Guinea, thanks to Salah Mohsen and Walid Suleiman strikes, before hosting Cano Sport at Borg Al-Arab on Saturday.
Though they were halfway through the group stage, Ahly did not rely on the first result and thrashed Cano Sport at home 4-0. Aliou Dieng managed to score his first goal for Ahly in his debut. The Nigerian striker Junior Ajayi added the second, Hussein Al-Shahat netted the third goal before Mohsen scored the fourth goal.
In addition to former winners, Angola has two representatives in rivals Petro Atletico and Primeiro de Agosto whilst Al-Hilal (Sudan), FC Platinum (Zimbabwe) and Zesco United (Zambia) complete the list.
In the second tier African Confederations Cup, Pyramids FC of Egyt secured their place in the Confederation Cup play-off after claiming a 1-0 away win over Algeria’s Belouizdad in the second leg of the competition’s second preliminary round on Sunday, thanks to John Antwi.
Egypt’s Masri also made their way easily to the group stage after a 7-2 win on aggregate against Malindi SC from Zanzibar.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.