Two-time finalist in the last five years, arguably one of Africa’s biggest teams, Zamalek were knocked out of the 2020/21 CAF Champions League at the group stage, despite a late rush, and no thanks to an early slump.
In the Egyptian giants’ first four group fixtures, they were able to pick just two points, scoring once in a dismal inversion of their fortunes from 2020 where they only lost to a late goal in the final against local rivals Al Ahly.
Although Zamalek defeated Senegalese debutants, Teungueth FC 4-1 in their final group game, scoring four goals in 25 minutes, it proved too little too late as northern African neighbours, Esperance of Tunisia and USMC of Algeria won the group’s quarterfinal tickets. It is USM’s first quarterfinal appearance since 2011.
In group A, Tanzania’s SC Simba finished as group leaders with 13 points, pipping defending champions Al Ahly to the group winners’ spot by two points.
Group B sees former champions Mamelodi Sundowns and CR Belouizdad as the winners of the group, with Sundowns emerging in first position with 13 points, four ahead of their Algerian counterparts.
In group C, first time entrants, Kaizer Chiefs qualified for the quarterfinals with 9 points after a much-needed 2-2 draw against AC Horoya of Guinea on the final match day in the group. The South Africans qualified on the head to head rule.
When the draws for the group stage were made and Al Ahly were grouped alongside Simba, Sudan’s El Merreikh and Congo’s AS Club Vita, not many would have fancied the Tanzanians leading the group. They had other plans.
Roared on by their ever-loud Msimbazi Reds’ faithful, in the magnificent 60,000 capacity stadium, Simba SC, who have the highest digital growth of any African club in 2020 went on to lead their group, ahead of defending champions Ahly.
In another big move, Amakhosi Kaizer Chiefs knocked Horoya out of the CAF Champions League on head to head, as the South Africans played a scoring stalemate in Conakry after a goalless first leg in Soweto. On their first attempt, Chiefs will be playing in the quarterfinal of Africa’s biggest football club cup competition and will hope to avoid a South-African derby.
South Africans will have something to cheer as the Bafana Bafana missed out on the 2022 AFCON losing to Sudan in the final match day.