African club competitions return after lengthy hiatus
African club competition returns following a hiatus of more than six months, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as both the Champions League and African Confederation Cup resume at the semi-final stage.
Morocco plays host to all four ties this weekend. The Champions League is continuing in its traditional format but the Confederation Cup is being concluded in a mini-tournament at a single venue, as was the case with Europe’s two annual club competitions in August.
Africa’s strict lockdown regulations and travel restrictions have kept the competitions from being concluded sooner and there was concern, at one stage, they might have to be cancelled.
Last season’s runners-up Wydad Casablanca host record winners Al Ahly of Egypt behind closed doors at the cavernous Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca on Saturday in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Raja Casablanca meet Zamalek on Sunday at the same venue in another tie pitting a Moroccan club against Egyptian opposition.
The return legs will be played in Alexandria on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 respectively.
The Confederation of African Football had originally intended to host the final stages of both competitions in a mini-tournament format with single semi-finals and a final a few days later at a central venue.
Cameroon were asked to host the Champions League final-four but pulled out and, after that, no alternative could be found, leading to the decision to continue with the usual two-legged format.
The final, however, is no longer over two legs for the first time in the competition’s 56-year history, but will be played in Douala, Cameroon on Nov. 6. The decision to play the final in a single game was already made last year.
The Confederation Cup will be concluded behind closed doors at Rabat’s Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.
There is an all-Moroccan clash between Hassania Agadir and Renaissance Berkane on Monday, followed the next day by the second semi-final between Guinea’s Horoya and Pyramids of Egypt. The final will be played on Sunday, Oct. 25.