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Broke USM Alger doubtful for Gor CAF CL tie

USM Alger players line up before a previous match. PHOTO/CAF Online

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – Algerian side USM Alger might fail to honor their CAF Champions League return leg tie against Kenyan champions Gor Mahia on September 29 due to financial difficulty, the club said on Tuesday.

According to the club’s Secretary General Mounir Debichi, the club might fail to raise enough money to cater for tickets and accommodation to travel for the return leg with the first leg tie scheduled for September 13 in Algiers.

“Today we qualified for the second round of the Champions League but we are unable to travel to Kenya to play against Gor Mahia. We can play the first game here. However, it is impossible to travel to Kenya for the second match given our financial difficulties. There has to be immediate solutions or else we forget about the competition,” Debichi said addressing the press in Algiers.

The side beat Niger’s AS Sonidep 5-2 on aggregate in the preliminary round and according to sources, the club was financed by a well wisher to travel to Niger for the return tie.

Alger have been struggling financially after their owner Ali Haddad, a key supporter of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was jailed for six months for holding two passports, in the first conviction in a string of corruption probes.

The business tycoon was arrested in late March on the border with Tunisia in possession of two passports and undeclared currency, days before Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests.

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed since the president stepped down on April 2 after two decades in power.

-Stay afloat

The financial tribulations surrounding the club owner have made it difficult for Alger to stay afloat.

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Gor and USM are facing off for the second time, having played against each other in the group stages of last season’s CAF Confederations Cup.

If indeed USM fail to honor the return leg tie in Nairobi, then they will face heavy sanctions from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and hand Gor a golden ticket to the group stages of the competition for the first time in their history.

And Gor themselves are not any better as they are also financially tinkering with lead sponsors Sportpesa having pulled out three weeks ago.

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