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CAF Champions League: Semi-finals 2nd Legs Preview

 CAF Champions League: Semifinals 2nd Legs Preview

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 
Draw 3/1 
Esperance 9/2 

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.

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Mamelodi Sundowns 15/20 
Draw 3/1 
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

Written by @EggsBenedictZA
 Register now and start betting with Hollywoodbets today!TP Mazembe, Mamelodi Sundowns, Wydad Casablanca and Esperance

The last four winners of the CAF Champions League battle it out for a spot in the decider of this year’s tournament. TP Mazembe, Mamelodi Sundowns, Wydad Casablanca and Esperance won Africa’s coveted prize in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively which should make for titanic battles in the semi-finals.

Friday 26 April

Wydad Casablanca 9/20 
Draw 15/4
Mamelodi Sundowns 11/2

This is fast becoming one of the most fiercely-contested rivalries in African football as these African football powerhouses are known for playing mind games and subjecting each other to dreaded hostility when they meet. The mutual antipathy manifested itself in the most recent meeting on South African soil when Pitso Mosimane was seen shouting at Wydad officials during a TV post-match conference. In the return leg, Wydad fans had held up a big banner which taunted the Brazilians’ coach.

These sides met at the group stage of this particular competition with the Brazilians winning at home and losing in Morocco. Most African teams are known for not losing at home and that has been the case in all six meetings between these two teams. Sundowns have won two and drawn of the three matches at home and they’ve lost all three away games.

Wydad are currently riding the crest of the domestic Moroccan league wave with a nine-point gap on second-placed Raja Casablanca, however, they have failed to win any of their last to league games, losing to third-placed Hassania Agadir and drawing against second-placed Raja. They should be grateful to the league as three of their domestic games have been postponed to cater for their continental commitments.

On the other hand, the Brazilians have to jet off to Morocco after a crucial league game against Chippa United on Tuesday afternoon. Fatigue is starting to take its toll on their players and that was clearly evident in their 2-0 defeat against SuperSport United but they redeemed themselves against Baroka who they beat 2-1. Speaking of the Baroka game, captain Hlompho Kekana was rushed to hospital after a malicious tackle and he remains a doubt for this game.

The Brazilians might have been inconsistent domestically which has seen Orlando Pirates overtake them on the standings but their Champions League form has been superb and they’ve recently thrashed Al Ahly 5-0 at home to register a 5-1 aggregate score.

This will be a tightly-contested encounter and my prediction will be based on the fact that Wydad are well-rested and they have won all their home meetings with Mamelodi Sundowns, hence why I’ll back the Moroccan giants to triumph.

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Saturday 27 April

Esperance 5/10 
Draw 7/2
TP Mazembe 17/4 

Esperance are the defending champions and their home record has also been quite remarkable! In the domestic league, they’ve lost only one of their 20 games so far and they enjoy a nine-point lead on second-placed CS Sfaxien. Their impressive home record was clearly evident when they eased past Orlando Pirates who had given them a hard time at Orlando Stadium.

I foresee the Tunisian outfit going for the kill here as they know how difficult it will be in DRC as TP Mazembe are unbeaten in the CAF Champions League at Lubumbashi since 18 October 2009. Since that defeat they have gone 44 games unbeaten with a record of 36 wins and eight draws.

Mazembe are well-rested as they currently lie second on the log and only three points off the pace with four games in hand. Their games were obviously postponed to accommodate their continental commitments. They were held to a goalless draw by top-placed AS Vita Club this past weekend.

The common trend in African football is teams losing or drawing away and winning or drawing at home and I foresee that being the case here. Put your money on Esperance.

DOUBLE @ 11/10
Wydad Casablanca Win 9/20
Esperance Win 5/10

Written by @EggsBenedictZA
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