Johannesburg - Leaders TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic
of Congo face their toughest CAF Confederation Cup Group A test when they
tackle second-place Mouloudia Bejaia in Algeria this weekend.
Both are unbeaten after two matchdays in the second-tier
African club competition with Mazembe winning at home to Medeama of Ghana and
away to Young Africans of Tanzania.
Bejaia defeated Young Africans at home and drew away to
Medeama, leaving them two points behind the pacesetters. The top two after a
double round advance to the semi-finals.
"This promises to be our most difficult group
match," admitted France-born Mazembe coach Hubert Velud before the
Lubumbashi Ravens flew to Algeria.
"The players want to continue what they have been doing
lately," he said, referring to successive victories after a disappointing
start to their 2016 CAF campaign.
Title-holders Mazembe were eliminated from the CAF Champions
League in the final qualifying round and demoted to the Confederation Cup -- a
fate that also befell Bejaia.
Having relied on an away goal to oust Stade Gabesien of
Tunisia in a play-off, Mazembe finally clicked to beat Medeama 3-1 with Zambia
winger Rainford Kalaba bagging a brace.
Kalaba missed the victory over Young Africans through injury,
but is fit to face Bejaia.
Although the Algerians lack the stars and the pedigree of
their rivals, coach Nacer Sandjak has his sights set on maximum points and top
"This match offers a great opportunity to maintain our
unbeaten group record, collect three points and replace Mazembe as
leaders," he told the Algerian media.
Only Yacine Salhi has scored for the Bejaia Crabs in the
group stage, but the club competing in Africa for the first time this season
have kept two clean sheets.
Bottom side Young Africans host third-place Medeama in a
must-win match for two clubs who have reached the Confederation Cup group stage
for the first time.
Also read: Mazembe defend slim CAF Cup lead in Tunisia
Scoring has been a problem for both with the Tanzanians
firing two blanks and Medeama going 179 minutes without a goal after Malik
Akowuah gave them a first-minute lead away to Mazembe.
There is also a top-of-the-table showdown in Group B with
leaders Kawkab Marrakech hosting fellow Moroccans FUS Rabat, who are two points
Both have experienced African glory with Kawkab winning the
now defunct CAF Cup in 1996 and FUS lifting the Confederation Cup against the
odds six years ago.
The goals of Mohamed El Fakih and Abdelilah Amimi have
helped Kawkab win all five CAF home games this year while FUS held
title-holders Etoile Sahel in Tunisia last month.
Etoile have secured only one point and need a home win over
bottom-of-the-table Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya to remain title contenders.For
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