Can Gamondi succeed where others have failed?
Posted: 11 July 2008 Time: 10:24 am
With four teams still remaining in the Confederations Cup at the Last 16 stage, Tunisian fans will be split this weekend with the country’s two giants, Etoile du Sahel and Esperance clashing for a place in the last eight of the continental competition.
Confederation Cup holders CS Sfaxien and Club Africain complete the Tunisian quartet at the 1/8th stage, which assures the 2004 African Champions of at least a representative at the group phase.
CS Sfaxien trek down south as guests of South African debutants Platinum Stars, while Club Africain contends with Djoliba Athletic of Mali.
The Tycoons posted a 2-1 win over five time African Champions, Al Ahly of Eygpt in their 1/8th stage clash of the CAF-MTN Champions League and are hopeful of another historic feat against the Sfax-based club.
CS Sfaxien has masterminded the exit of Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns from previous continental championships, but Argentine coach Miguel Gamondi is hoping to succeed where others have failed.
The home clash between the Tunisian giants is billed for the Olympic Stadium in Sousse, home of CAF-MTN Champions League holders Etoile on Saturday. It will be the second time in two weeks that Tunisians most successful clubs are meeting after last weekend’s Tunisian FA Cup tie.
Esperance, continental champions in 1994 won the Tunisia FA Cup 2-1 in the first clash between the two sides last Saturday, but the remaining two encounters are both crucial to their continental club aspirations this year.
African champions, Etoile exited the CAF-MTN Champions League after being stunned by Zimbabwean champions, Dynamos 2-0 on aggregate and have the upper hand in clashes between the two sides with back to back victories during the Tunisian League.
Among the two sides comes 29 Tunisian league triumphs but Etoile will have revenge on the minds as they play host to Esperance nicknamed ‘the Grinners’ with a side boosted by the return of Nigerian-born striker Emeka Opara after a two year stint with German outfit, Kaiserslautern.
Mamelodi Sundowns, also ousted from the much lucrative CAF-MTN Champions League by Sudanese side Al-Hilal will be at home to Haras El Hodoud of Egypt in a tie that Technical Director Ted Dumitru remains optimistic of victory.
The Romania-born trainer believes his team’s participation in last weekend’s Mopani Mayor Charity Cup has warranted them a perfect preparation for the continental tie.
In Tripoli, Ghana ’s sole representative in the continental championships Asante Kotoko will face Libyan champions, Al-Ittihad.
Two-time African champions, Kotoko crowned Ghana ’s league champions for a record 21-time last Sunday approach the crucial game without Head coach Bashir Hayford.
Hayford, credited with the transforming of Kotoko into a formidable side this season has been mourning the demise of his wife, an occurrence which has kept him away from the team for the past three weeks.
But in striker Eric Bekoe, top scorer on the domestic scene with 17 goals, Samuel Inkoom, Jordan Opoku and the experienced Emmanuel Osei Kuffour (CAF-MTN Champions League and Confederations Cup winner with Hearts of Oak); Kotoko is sure of a positive outing to make the second leg a mere formality.
Elsewhere in Luanda, Interclube will come up against Mount Cameroon while J.S. Kabylie of Algeria square off another Cameroonian side Astres de Douala.
Olympique Club de Khourigba will host Sudanese side, El Merrikh, last year’s losing finalist in Khourigba , Morocco .
The return legs have been fixed for July 25-27.