African Chelsea also after Champions League glory
There is more than one Chelsea football club eyeing Champions League glory this year. While the London-based English Premier League outfit prepare to face Bayern Munich Saturday in the UEFA Champions League final, Berekum Chelsea of Ghana secured a CAF Champions League last-eight place at the weekend.
The African Chelsea demonstrated the same fighting spirit shown by the men from Stamford Bridge in Barcelona as they triumphed 2-1 at Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon after a goalless first leg two weeks ago. Dutch coach Hans van der Pluijm had urged his team from provincial town Sunyani to replicate the never-say-die spirit exhibited by their famous namesakes when they came from 2-0 behind with 10 men to hold Barca at Camp Nou. A team lacking injured defender Ahmed Adams and midfielder Yaw Alexander but with suspended skipper Abdul Basit back did not disappoint in the searing heat of north-western Cameroon cotton town Garoua. Leading Champions League scorer Emmanuel Clottey raised his goal haul to six from as many matches by putting Berekum ahead on the half-hour mark at the rudimentary Omnisport Stadium. Jacques Haman levelled via the penalty spot seven minutes from time with his third goal of the campaign, but 2008 Champions League runners-up Cotonsport were still behind on the away-goal rule and needed to net again. However, Chelsea rode the storm and Basit led by example a minute into stoppage time with the match-winning goal that ended a long spell without a Ghanaian club in the group phase. CAF debutants Berekum eliminated LISCR of Liberia and three-time champions Raja Casablanca of Morocco in earlier qualifying rounds and will discover their three mini-league opponents when the draw is made in Cairo Tuesday.
Defending champions Esperance of Tunisia and former title holders Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zamalek of Egypt are also through. Berekum, Sunshine Stars of Nigeria and ASO Chlef of Algeria have made the pool phase for the first time and the final place went to record six-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt who left it late to beat Stade Malien of Mali 3-1 on the night and qualify on a 3-2 aggregate score. Azuka continued his goal-a-game scoring streak for Sunshine with the winner as the Nigerians edged Malian visitors Djoliba 1-0 in south-western town Ijebu-Ode after a drawn first encounter.
Zamalek triumphed 2-0 for the second time against 2011 CAF Confederation Cup winners Moghreb Fes of Morocco, this time through goals from Ibrahim Salah and Hazem Emam behind closed doors at the Cairo Military Academy Stadium. gyptian authorities have banned competitive football, apart from CAF fixtures that must be staged without spectators, since 74 people died in Port Said last February after post-match rioting. Moghreb defender Said Hammoumi was red carded in the first half and veteran Zamalek midfielder Ahmed Hassan in the second and home team star Shikabala stormed angrily off the pitch just past the hour mark when substituted. With a six-goal first-leg advantage, Esperance were never going to be troubled by Dynamos in Zimbabwe and settled for a 1-1 draw with Denver Mukamba equalising after Khaled Ayari gave the visitors an early second-half lead.
HOSTS COUNTRIES OF NEXT CAF COMPETITIONSOrange CAN 2012
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