Egypt's Zamalek and South Africa's Sundowns will clash in their Group B CAF Champions League fixture on Sunday.
The 'CBD' trio will look to get the ball rolling for Sundowns when they travel to Egypt to take on Zamalek.
The CAF Champions League will resume this weekend with Egyptian giants Zamalek battling it out against PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns. The pair are tied at the top of Group B with six points apiece, making this encounter all the more enticing.
CAF Champions League | Petro Sport Stadium | Sunday 17 July | 20:30
Zamalek 5/4 | Draw 22/10 | Sundowns 2/1
Zamalek started the group stages with a hard-fought, nail-biting 1-0 victory away to Nigerian side Enyimba. Their second match was cancelled against ES Setif after the Algerian side were disqualified from the CAF Champions League due to the team's supporters invading the pitch in injury time in their match against Mamelodi Sundowns. With the Brazilians 2-0 up in the 92nd minute, fans ran onto the field and the referee had to end the match due to the disarray.
The CAF Organising Committee for the Inter-Clubs Competitions decided ES Setif the loser and eliminated the Algerian outfit from the competition. The other three teams in the group are awarded full points for fixtures involving ES Setif, which means the victory Sundowns were heading towards was effectively cancelled out.
Zamalek finished second in the Egyptian Premier League, seven points behind their rivals Al Ahly. Nonetheless, they were excellent on home soil this term, winning 12 times, drawing four, and suffering just one defeat from 17 matches. Now, they will put their terrific home record to the test when they host Sundowns on Sunday evening.
Basem Morsy will lead the line for Zamalek, and with his slick movement, aerial ability and eye for goal, he will most likely cause Sundowns all sorts of problems. Kahraba, who was their leading scorer with 11 goals, will be another lively threat. His pace, trickery and technical ability should keep the Brazilians’ defence on their toes.
Three-team Group B could work in Sundowns ’advantage in their effort to reach the last four‚ despite the discontent of their opening three points being withdrawn. The Brazilians are coming off a long and tiring domestic season, which saw them crowned PSL champions; and they could also be mentally worn from being called back to this tournament after their second round opponents‚ AS Vita‚ were expelled. The Congolese side were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player – Idrissa Traore – who played in the second leg when they knocked out Downs on the away-goals rule. Next up, a battle against one of the tournament favourites, and yet another obstacle in the way of Sundowns earning a place in the semi-finals.
Sundowns have gone from being dumped out of the 2016 CAF Champions League to realistically qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition after they laboured out a 2-1 Group B win against Enyimba at Lucas Moripe Stadium in their second group game. The victory took the Brazilians to the top of Group B, along with Zamalek after both sides were awarded maximum points for the scheduled fixture against disqualified Algerian side ES Setif.
Sundowns have an abundance of quality all over the pitch. The centre-back pairing of Thabo Nthethe and Wayne Arendse has been extremely solid, whilst Leonardo Castro, Keagan Dolly and Khama Billiat formed the PSL’s very own attacking triple threat known as the ‘CBD’. Throughout the season they tormented defence after defence, playing for one another, showing a certain principle of selflessness. The result was spectacular, with the CBD scoring an impressive 34 goals between them and assisting 31 in all competitions. The deadly trio will be eager to give their team the cutting edge when they travel to Egypt.
Verdict: Draw at 22/10
This meeting has all the potential of being a humdinger. Both sides have been in top form, and neither has anything to lose. Zamalek will play for maximum points in an effort to gain top spot in the group. Sundowns on the other hand, could be pleased with a point, as the teams must still lock horns in the reverse tie in South Africa. A tight and cagey affair is expected with the draw being the most likely result.
Written by Aaron Crowie for @Hollywoodbets.