Match of the week
TP Mazembe 1-0 Smouha
After the two opening matches TP Mazembe were third in their group with two points, knowing that they needed to change their fortunes to stay in contention for a fifth continental title. Les Corbeaux picked up their first three points in Egypt against Smouha in their third game and then added another victory against the same opponent on the weekend courtesy of a second-half goal by Roger Assale. Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron complimented his players after the win but said they hadn't reached their peak. “We played a very good first half, but wasted too many chances. I think we should have scored a goal earlier, that would have made it very difficult for Smouha.” Mazembe top the group with eight points, while Al Hilal and Moghreb Tetouan have five. Even Smouha with three points, still have a chance of making the semi-finals.
In the other Group A match, Tetouan secured a historic 1-0 victory at Al Hilal. The Moroccan club, who are making their second appearance in the competition, had lost all their previous five away matches and were under pressure to produce the goods in Sudan after being held to a draw at home by their opponents in the previous match. The only goal of the game came midway through the first half after Yassin Lakhal was brought down in the area and Ahmed Jahouh scored from the spot. The home side had a chance to equalise in the second half when they too were awarded a penalty kick, but Tetouan goalkeeper Mohamed El Yousfi became his side's hero by stopping Souleymane Cisse's attempt. Tetouan captain Mohamed Abarhoun admitted that they had played a result-driven game. “It is true we didn’t offer ‘beautiful’ football, but each match has its considerations. Our target was to get the three points. It is important that we won the game.”
In Group B, US Alger are through to the semi-finals after their 1-0 victory against Algerian second division club El Eulma. The Algerian champions have the maximum 12 points and lead the group by five points from Al Merreikh, who beat the title holders ES Setif 2-0. Alaeldin Yousif Hado scored from the spot shortly before the break. Worse was to follow for the champions as Riyad Kenniche was sent off for a second bookable offence. Ghanaian striker Augustine Okrah added a second in the dying moments of the game.
Player of the week
The only time that Algerian champions USM Alger escaped the group phase of the competition was in 2003, when they were knocked out in the semi-finals by the eventual winners Enyimba. Going into their match on the weekend against compatriots El Eulma, USM knew that a victory would guarantee their progress into the next round – with two games to spare. Mohamed Meftah, who comes from a well-known Algerian footballing family, headed home four minutes after the restart to see USM through.
5 – The number of games that Smouha have played and lost on the road in the competition. The sole Egyptian team remaining in the competition lost all three matches in the knock-out round 1-0 and were beaten 2-0 by Al Hilal in their first group away group match. The Blue Wave were beaten 1-0 by Mazembe on the weekend and now sit on the woeful record of played five, lost five, scored zero and conceded six.
What they said
“It’s always special to play at home and certainly the crowd helped us get here. I am delighted by my performance, and I believe that as a team we can achieve more as a unit with the same level of professionalism we have exhibited,” Ghanaian winger Solomon Asante, who helped TP Mazembe to a 1-0 victory against Smouha.
Have your say
Can TP Mazembe break or better the record of conceding the lowest number of goals in the group phase of the competition. Mazembe, who have not conceded a goal in their four matches in the group, are previously one of seven clubs who conceded just two goals in their six matches. ASEC Mimosas (2006) and Esperance (1999) went one better – having to pick the ball out from the back of their net just once.