- A moving tribute, an improved record and the return of the trophy to Egypt
- The top scorer in the quarter-finals, two sumptuous achievements in the final
- Four coaches for a champion, Mosimane joins El Gohary
The 2019/20 CAF Champions League is unlike any other. For long months, the Covid-19 pandemic brought football to a halt, in Africa and around the world. The competition was therefore suspended between March and October.
The tournament resumed under exceptional circumstances: all matches were played behind closed doors, a situation which ultimately benefited Al Ahly. Indeed, the giant of Cairo won his ninth African champion title on November 27, after a turbulent course. FIFA.com comes back for you on this extraordinary edition.
On the road to Qatar 2020
Al Ahly starts his campaign in the CAF Champions League in the preliminary round. Opposed to Atlabara (South Sudan), the Red Devils win without trembling (13-0 over both sets). In the process, they validate their ticket for the group stage with easy access to Kano Sport (Equatorial Guinea), 6-0 in the best of two sets. Poured into a section which also includes Platinum (Zimbabwe) and Al Hilal (Sudan), Al Ahly takes second place behind the Etoile du Sahel, a result synonymous with qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The Egyptians are this time opposed to Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the event in 2016. They won 2-0 in Cairo, before snatching a 1-1 draw in Pretoria. In the next round, they found Wydad Casablanca, which they successively dominated in Morocco (2-0) and Egypt (3-1). It did not take more to open the doors to a final where the Zamalek awaits them.
A moving tribute
In a gesture of great elegance, Al Ahly captain Mohamed El Shenawy handed the trophy to his teammate Moamen Zakaria to allow him to wave it. The latter, who suffers from a rare disease, remained away from the field for a year and a half, in order to follow a specific treatment.
Maghreb deprived of title for the first time since 2016
For three years, the Maghreb clubs had taken the habit of confiscating the CAF Champions League trophy. Wydad Casablanca inaugurated this trend by beating Al Ahly in 2017. ES Tunis then succeeded him in 2018 and 2019, before the Red Devils did end the series by winning a title that had eluded them since 2013.
Zamalek at the gates of the feat
The other big club in Cairo missed the opportunity to add a sixth row to its continental record, which would have made it the second most successful team in the history of the competition. The White Knights remain tied for the time being with TP Mazembe (five coronations each), while Al Ahly increases his lead.
Al Al Ahly and Zamalek won a quarter of the titles
The Cairo giants have won 14 of the 56 African championship titles awarded to date. They therefore represent, between them, a quarter of the prize list.
Mosimane joins El Gohary
Pitso Mosimane, Al Ahly’s coach, also made history by winning the CAF Champions League with two different teams (Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016 and Al Ahly in 2020). He repeats the feat achieved by Mahmoud El-Gohary, crowned African champion in 1982 with Al Ahly, then in 1993 at the helm of Zamalek.
Four coaches for a title
Rare enough to be underlined, the new African champion used four different technicians throughout his campaign. The Red Devils played the first leg of the preliminary round against Atlabara under Martin Lasarte, who gave way to Mohamed Yousef for the second leg. Rene Weiler then took over in the quarterfinal against the Mamelodi Sundowns. Mosimane took over from him just before the semi-finals.
As often, this tournament gave pride of place to the scorers. Eliminated in the quarter-finals, Étoile du Sahel was however able to count on the efficiency of its Algerian striker Karim Aribi, crowned top scorer of the tournament with ten goals. The feat is all the more remarkable as he played three matches less than his rivals Zamalek and Al Ahly (the two rounds of the semi-finals and the final). His performances convinced the leaders of Nîmes Olympiques to recruit him at the end of the season.
- Finals don’t always keep their promises; Sometimes tactics take precedence over talent as players have to deal with increasing pressure. Luckily, the last meeting of this 2019/20 edition of the Champions League is an exception to the rule. Shikabala tied the two teams on a sumptuous strike, before Afsha gave Al Ahly the victory with panache.
- Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy greatly contributed to the coronation of his team. The last bulwark of Red Devils, who had already made a name for himself with Egypt during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia ™, continued the momentum by signing a famous hat-trick with his club in 2019/20.
- Achraf Bencharki (Zamalek) continues his ascent. Already crowned in 2017 with Wydad, the Moroccan finished second in his team’s top scorer, with seven units on the clock. His sense of dribbling and his ability to break through opposing defenses have proven to be essential, throughout his team’s great journey. More than ever, the native of Taza seems determined to make a place for himself in Vahid Halilhodzic’s plans for qualifying for Qatar 2022.
- Karim Aribi, 10 goals (Étoile du Sahel)
- Mostafa Mohamed, 8 goals (Zamalek).
- Jackson Muleka, 7 buts (TP Mazembe)
- Mostafa Mohamed, 7 goals (Zamalek)
Best player in the final:
• Mohamed Magdy Afsha