Our football analyst previews the CAF Champions League semifinals return legs which kick off on Saturday 4 May 2019.
As I predicted, the home teams won their respective semi-finals first leg clashes. Esperance recorded a 1-0 victory over TP Mazembe in Tunisia and Wydad Casablanca triumphed 2-1 against Mamelodi Sundowns in Morocco. The return legs take centre stage this weekend with all teams knowing exactly what is required of them to progress to the decider with the home teams facing deficits!
Saturday 4 May
TP Mazembe 6/10
TP Mazembe tried to hold their own on foreign soil but their resistance crumbled in the 51st minute when they conceded the decisive goal that saw them lose 1-0. The statistics clearly indicate that their backs were against the wall as they only had 31% of the ball with the Tunisian outfit enjoying 69% possession.
Centre half, Kabaso Chongo, will sit out this clash as he got sent off for a second bookable offence in the first leg. Goalkeeper, Sylvain Gbohouo, who had a blinder of a game in the first leg to ensure that his side doesn’t win by a huge margin, will have to be on top of his game once again as keeping a clean sheet at home is vital. Mazembe are unbeaten at home in their last 44 CAF Champions League games since 2009.
Esperance who will be looking to become the fourth team ever to defend the continent’s most prestigious club competition after TP Mazembe, Al Ahly and Enyimba and will be looking for an away goal that would require their opponents to find the back of the net three time to advance to the final.
Esperance are more of a dangerous side than Mazembe but wayward finishing often lets them down and it won’t be easy to dominate at Lubumbashi. I think both teams will score and the match will end in a draw with Esperance going through to the final.
Mamelodi Sundowns 15/20
Wydad Casablanca 32/10
Once again, Mamelodi Sundowns have to play a league game in midweek before preparing to host a CAF Champions League clash. The Brazilians play relegation-threatened Black Leopards on Tuesday night with the domestic title race heating up as they have to catch up with fellow title contenders, Orlando Pirates.
The Brazilians need just a 1-0 win to knock the Moroccan giants out of the competition and book a spot in the final. Anele Ngcongca’s header in the 2-1 defeat way from home could prove vital in this gruelling contest. Sundowns have lost all their four visits to Wydad but they’ve never lost against them at home.
I’m expecting coach Pitso Mosimane to opt for his favoured offensive approach with two number tens in Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane operating in the half spaces and interchanging positions with Lebogang Maboe in the false nine position. Whenever these sides meet, tempers flare and if coach Pitso manages to keep his emotions in check, the Chloorkop-based outfit can hold their own.
Wydad have lost two and drawn one of their visits to Sundowns and they will be hoping they don’t lose this encounter to advance to the final. I expect them to try and protect their slender 2-1 lead which would see them applying a low defensive block and relying on counter and set-pieces as their methods of attack.
This should be a thrill-packed encounter and it shall be very interesting to see how Wydad would restructure their approach if Sundowns score first. The only time the match could be decided on penalties is if Sundowns win 2-1. Masandawana are used to dealing with reinforced defences and if Wydad opt for that approach, they could be playing into their hands.
Sundowns will be looking for that all-important goal that could see them advance to the final and they have an experienced team that knows how to stay calm and patient under these circumstances. Put your money on the Brazilians to win this clash!
DOUBLE @ 6/1
TP Mazembe vs Esperance Draw 3/1
Mamelodi Sundowns Win 15/20
Witten by @BenedictNgwenya