Egypt's Zamalek clinch place in CAF Confederations Cup final

Cairo giants beat Dreams of Ghana 3-1 on aggregate but face anxious wait to see who their opponents will be after game between Renaissance Berkane and USM Alger called off again

Powered by automated translation

Egypt's Zamalek sealed their place in the CAF Confederations Cup final with a win over Dreams of Ghana, but they face an anxious wait to find out the identity of their opponents after the match between Renaissance Berkane of Morocco and Algeria's USM Alger was called off for a second-straight week.

Cairo giants Zamalek won their semi-final away leg by a record margin as they defeated Dreams 3-0 in Kumasi on Sunday. The first leg finished goalless in the Egyptian capital.

Zamalek bettered the previous best away result in the penultimate stage – a 3-1 victory by SuperSport United of South Africa against Club Africain of Tunisia seven seasons ago.

The Cairo club are likely to face Renaissance in the two-leg final on May 12 and 19 in what would be a repeat of the 2019 title decider after USM Alger refused to enter the pitch in the northeastern Moroccan city of Berkane for the semi-final second leg, which has been dogged by off-field drama.

On Sunday in Berkane, only the home players took the field and they saluted their fans as the stadium announcer told the crowd the match had been cancelled.

Moroccan television reported that the USM team left the stadium just before the scheduled kick-off time.

Berkane were awarded a 3-0 win in the first leg, which was not played on April 21 because Algerian authorities confiscated the shirts of the Moroccan team and refused to return them.

The shirts had a map of Morocco on them that included the Western Sahara.

Morocco administers about 80 per cent of the 266,000-square-kilometre desert region. The remainder of the sparsely-populated area is held by the Algeria-backed self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a breakaway state that is not recognised by the UN.

Rabat's sovereignty over the region is supported by several Arab states, African nations and the US.

The Algerian football federation has lodged an appeal against the CAF sanction with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, arguing that the Cairo-based body had "validated the request of the Moroccan club, RS Berkane, to wear a shirt with a political message".

Before kick off on Sunday, Renaissance supporters held up a banner with a map of Morocco on it. Many fans waved Moroccan flags.

Having dominated the first leg at home only to be let down by poor finishing, Zamalek were far more clinical in Ghana in the African equivalent of the Uefa Europa League.

Tunisian Hamza Mathlouthi and Beninese Samson Akinyoola scored in the first half and any hopes of a dramatic Dreams comeback were dashed when Mostafa Shalaby netted after half time.

Shalaby was shown a yellow card for removing his shirt after celebrating his goal in front of the stand seating Zamalek officials and staff.

Abdel Wahed El-Sayed, Zamalek's director of football, said after the match Shalaby's celebration was not intended to provoke.

He said: “The celebration did not involve any offence to anyone, and it was spontaneous in light of the difficulty of the match and the confirmation of qualification to the final, especially since the player has a strong relationship with the Zamalek fans."

Updated: April 29, 2024, 8:38 AM