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Wydad out to make most of second chance

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 1 – Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca have made the most of getting a second chance in the 2011 African Champions League by qualifying for the final against Esperance of Tunisia this weekend.

They appeared to have reached the end of the road last May in search of a second title when a last-minute goal from defending champions TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo eliminated the North Africans.

But the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup runners-up fielded ineligible defender Janvier Bokungu against Wydad, and Simba of Tanzania in the previous ronnd, and were disqualified.

After taking 87 minutes to pierce the Simba defence in a Cairo play-off for a group slot, Wydad went on to triumph 3-0 with consistent sharpshooters Fabrice Ondama and Mouhssine Iajour among the scorers.

Drawn with record six-time winners Al-Ahly of Egypt and former champions Esperance and Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, a Wydad squad under new Swiss coach Michel Decastel were long shots for a top-two finish and a semi-finals place.

Forced to start a physically and mentally gruelling mini-league campaign away to Ahly, Wydad led then trailed twice in a thriller before Iajour struck a minute from full-time to snatch an unexpected 3-3 draw.

A 4-0 mauling of Mouloudia followed with a first-minute goal from Congo Brazzaville-born Ondama triggering the rout and draws against Esperance (home and away) and Ahly (home) followed to leave Wydad second with one round left.

Bottom-of-the-table Mouloudia turned the tables with a 3-1 win, but Ahly were held in Cairo by Esperance and Wydad snatched second place on the head-to-head rule because they scored thrice in Cairo and Ahly only once in Casablanca.

Eliminating Ahly did not convince many pundits Wydad were title material and twice champions Enyimba of Nigeria took an unbeaten run in the competition this season and the favourites tag into the semi-finals showdown.

The Nigerians were under siege for most of the first leg at the 70,000-seat Mohamed V Stadium and just when they looked like escaping with a draw, Benin midfielder Pascal Angan nodded the lone goal.

Enyimba remained favourites but could not penetrate the Moroccan defence at home and a goalless draw meant the visitors were in the final for the first time since 1992 when they overcame Al-Hilal of Sudan 2-0 on aggregate.

That Wydad side included stars like defender Moureddine Naybet and midfielder Rachid Daoudi and Senegalese Moussa Ndaw poached vital goals as the Moroccans emulated domestic rivals Raja Casalanca and FAR Rabat by conquering Africa.

Although the 2011 class lacks ‘big names’, goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri is a likely first choice at the Africa Cup of Nations next January and midfielders Said Fatah, Mohamed Berrabah and Ayoub El Khaliqi are also in the squad.

Quick, skilful Ondama is a crowd favourite and he and Iajour have contributed five goals each of the 21 Wydad struck in 15 matches en route to the final with the first leg this Sunday and the return match six days later in Tunis.

Silver-haired Decastel has experienced African glory — leading CS Sfaxien of Tunisia to the 1997 CAF Cup — and admits that 1994 champions Esperance will be “difficult opponents, but we hope to make the best out of it”.

This will be the fourth African final appearance by Wydad as they lost the 1999 CAF Cup to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia on away goals and won the Cup Winners Cup three years later by the same method against Asante Kotoko of Ghana.

FACT FILE

Full name: Wydad Athletic Club Casablanca

Formed: 1937

Ground: Mohamed V Stadium, Casablanca (capacity: 70,000)

Colours: Red and white

Captain: Nader Lamyaghri (goalkeeper)

Coach: Michel Decastel (SUI)

Squad (figure indicates shirt number. Moroccan unless noted): 1. Nadir Lamyaghri, 2. Ayoub Skouma, 3, Mourad El Mssane, 4. Youssef Kaddioui, 5 Abderrahmane Mssassi, 6. Hicham El Amrani, 7. Ahmed Ajeddou, 8. Yassine Lakhal, 10. Mohamed Berrabah, 11. Farid Talhaoui, 12. Karim Fegrouch, 13. Youssef Rabeh, 16. Houcine Zaidoune, 17. Yassine Bounou, 18. Mouhssine Iajour, 19. Kabous Abderrahman, 20. Abdelhak Ait Laarif, 21. Fabrice Ondama (CGO), 22. Alioui Jamal, 23. Mustapha Allaoui, 24. Youness Mankari, 25. Abderrahim Benkajjane, 26. Mohamed Barakat, 27. Pascal Angan (BEN), 28. Said Fatah, 29 Ayoub El Khaliqi, 30. Khalid Sekkat

Path to final: Qualifiers – Aduana Stars (GHA) 3-1 (3-0 home, 0-1 away), Kano Pillars (NGR) 2-0 (2-0 0-0), TP Mazembe (COD, holders) 1-2 (1-0 0-2, Wydad reinstated after Mazembe disqualified). Play-off (Cairo) – Simba (TAN) 3-0. Mini-league – Al-Ahly (EGY) 1-1 3-3, Mouloudia Alger (ALG) 4-0 1-3, Esperance (TUN) 2-2 0-0. Semi-finals – Enyimba (NGR) 1-0 (1-0 0-0)

Scorers: 5 – Mouhssine Iajour and Fabrice Ondama (CGO), 2 – Ahmed Ajeddou, Pascal Angan (BEN), Abderrahim Benkajjane and Ayoub El Khaliqi, 1 – Mustapha Allaoui, Youssef Kaddioui and Sherif Abdul-Fadil (Ahly) own goal

Previous appearances: 1987 – second round, 1991 – quarter-finals, 1992 – champions, 1993 – second round, 1994 – second round, 2007 – second round

African titles: 1992 – African Champions Cup, 2002 – African Cup Winners Cup

Note: African Champions Cup renamed African Champions League in 1997

2011 AFRICA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PROGRESSION
FIRST ROUND

ASFAN (NIG) 0 JC Abidjan (CIV) 3 (0-0 home, 0-3 away)

St Michel Ouenze (CGO) 0 Enyimba (NGR) 3 (0-1, 0-2)

US Bitam (GAB) 0 Astres Douala (CMR) 0 (0-0, 0-0, 5-3 penalties)

Real Bangui (CAF) 1 Mouloudia Alger (ALG) 3 (1-1, 0-2)

InterClube (Angola) walkover, Township Rollers (BOT) withdrew

East End Lions (SLE) 0 Djoliba (MLI) 4 (0-2, 0-2)

Diaraf (SEN) 3 Ports Authority (GAM) 1 (1-1, 2-0)

ASPAC (BEN) 2 Deportivo Mongomo (GEQ) 1 (1-0, 1-1

ASEC Mimosas (CIV 9 Cansando (MTN) 0 (7-0, 2-0)

Motor Action (ZIM) 1 Cnaps Sports (MAD) 1 (0-1, 1-0, 4/3 penalties)

Raja Casablanca (MAR) 10 Tourbillon (CHA) 1 (10-1, Tourbillon withdrew)

Ulinzi Stars (KEN 0 Zamalek (EGY) 5 (0-4, 0-1)

APR (RWA) 2 Club Africain (TUN) 6 (2-2, 0-4)

Recreativo Caala (ANG) 2 St George (ETH) 1 (2-0, 0-1)

Mitsoudje (COM) 2 Simba (TAN) 4 (0-0, 2-4)

Mighty Barolle (LBR) 1 Kano Pillars (NGR) 3 (1-2, 0-1)

Wydad Casablanca (MAR) 3 Aduana Stars (GHA) 1 (3-0, 0-1)

Fello Star (GUI) 1 ASFA Yennenga (BUR) 4 (1-1, 0-3)

Vital’O (BDI) 3 Cotonsport Garoua (CMR) 3 (2-2, 1-1)

Ocean View (ZAN) 1 V Club (COD) 4 (1-1, 0-3)

SuperSport Utd (RSA) 3 Matlama (LES) 2 (2-0, 1-2)

Young Buffaloes (SWZ) 4 St Michel United (SEY) 2 (3-0, 1-2)

ZESCO Utd (ZAM) 4 Liga Muculmana (MOZ) 2 (3-0, 1-2)

Second round

Al-Ittihad (LBA) walkover JC Abidjan withdrew

Bitam 1 Enyimba 2 (0-0, 1-2)

Dynamos (ZIM) 4 Mouloudia 4 (4-1, 0-3)

Al-Merrikh (SUD) 2 InterClube 2 (2-0, 0-2, 2-3 penalties)

Diaraf 4 Djoliba 1 (3-0, 1-1)

Esperance (TUN) 5 ASPAC 2 (5-0, 0-2)

Motor Action 0 ASEC 0 (2-4 penalties)

Note: single match because of Ivory Coast unrest

Stade Malien (MLI) 2 Raja 2 (2-1, 0-1)

Club Africain 5 Zamalek 4 (4-2, 1-2)

Note: Return match in Egypt abandoned due to pitch invasion

Al-Hilal (SUD) 4 Caala 1 (3-0, 1-1)

TP Mazembe (COD) 6 Simba 3 (3-1, 3-2)

Wydad 2 Kano 0 (2-0, 0-0)

Entente Setif (ALG) 6 Yennenga 3 (2-0, 4-3)

V Club 0 Cotonsport Garoua 3 (0-1, 0-2)

Al-Ahly (EGY) 2 SuperSport 1 (2-0, 0-1)

ZESCO 7 Young Buffaloes 0 (5-0, 2-0)

Third round

Enyimba 1 Ittihad 0 (1-0)

Note: single match because of Libyan conflict

InterClube 3 Mouloudia 4 (1-1, 2-3)

Esperance 6 Diaraf 0 (5-0, 1-0)

Raja 1 ASEC 1 (1-1, 5-4 penalties)

Note: single match because of Ivory Coast unrest

Hilal 2 Club Africain 1 (1-0, 1-1)

Note: Return match in Tunisia abandoned due to pitch invasion

Wydad 1 Mazembe 2 (1-0, 0-2)

Cotonsport 4 Setif 3 (4-1, 0-2)

ZESCO 0 Ahly 1 (0-0, 0-1)

Play-off

At Cairo

Wydad 3 Simba 0

Note: Clubs reinstated after Mazembe disqualified for using ineligible player

Group A

Raja 0 Cotonsport 0, Enyimba 2 Hilal 2

Hilal 1 Raja 0, Cotonsport 2 Enyimba 3

Enyimba 2 Raja 0, Hilal 2 Cotonsport 1

Raja 0 Enyimba 0, Cotonsport 2 Hilal 0

Hilal 1 Enyimba 2, Cotonsport 2 Raja 1

Raja 0 Hilal 0, Enyimba 2 Cotonsport 0

Final standings (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points)

Enyimba 6 4 2 0 11 5 14 – qualified

Hilal 6 2 2 2 6 7 8 – qualified

———————————————

Cotonsport 6 2 1 3 7 8 7

Raja 6 0 3 3 1 5 3

Group B

Mouloudia 1 Esperance 1, Ahly 3 Wydad 3

Esperance 1 Ahly 0, Wydad 4 Mouloudia 0

Ahly 2 Mouloudia 0, Wydad 2 Esperance 2

Esperance 0 Wydad 0, Mouloudia 0 Ahly 0

Esperance 4 Mouloudia 0, Wydad 1 Ahly 1

Mouloudia 3 Wydad 1, Ahly 1 Esperance 1

Final standings

Esperance 6 2 4 0 9 4 10 – qualified

Wydad 6 1 4 1 11 9 7 – qualified

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Ahly 6 1 4 1 7 6 7

Mouloudia 6 1 2 3 4 12 5

Note: Wydad finished second on head-to-head rule

Semi-finals

Wydad 1 Enyimba 0 (1-0 0-0)

Hilal 0 Esperance 3 (0-1 0-2)

Final

Wydad v Esperance

First leg: Nov 6, second: Nov 12

Note: Winners qualify for FIFA Club World Cup between Dec 8-18 in Japan

LEADING SCORER

7 – Edward Sadomba (Hilal)

PRIZE MONEY

Winners – 1.5 million dollars

Runners-up – 1 million

Enyimba, Hilal – 700,000 each

Ahly, Cotonsport – 500,000 each

Mouloudia, Raja – 400,000 each

PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS

6 – Al-Ahly (EGY)

5 – Zamalek (EGY)

4 – TP Mazembe (COD)

3 – Canon Yaounde (CMR), Hafia (GUI), Raja Casablanca (MAR)

2 – Asante Kotoko (GHA), Enyimba (NGR), JS Kabylie (ALG)

1 – Club Africain, Esperance and Etoile Sahel (TUN), ASEC Mimosas and Stade Abidjan (CIV), Entente Setif and Mouloudia Alger (ALG), FAR Rabat and Wydad Casablanca (MAR), Oryx Douala and Union Douala (CMR), CARA (CGO), Hearts of Oak (GHA), Ismailia (EGY), Orlando Pirates (RSA), V Club (COD)

Note: Competition called African Champions Cup until 1997 when prize money was introduced and quarter-finals were replaced by a group phase

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