North African teams have once again showed their grit and class, as they dominated the semi-finalist list for the inaugural edition of the African Football League (AFL).
All three North African teams represented in the eight-team tournament have made their way into the last four, which kick off this weekend.
Record African champions Al Ahly were made to sweat by Tanzanian giants Simba SC, before they narrowly squeezed into the semis on the away goal rule, after a 3-3 aggregate draw. They had drawn 2-2 in the first leg in Dar es Salaam, before a 1-1 stalemate in the return fixture in Cairo.
Despite the tough two encounters against Simba, Ahly showed their class in performance, and the reigning CAF Champions League holders will look to make an impact as they have been paired against South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, the only non North African team in the last four.
Masandawana made it to the semis after edging out Petro de Luanda of Angola 2-0 in aggregate. They were held to a 0-0 draw by Petro in the second leg in Pretoria, a match they had to play with 10 men for almost its entirety after they suffered an early red card.
They had won the first leg 2-0 in Luanda, and the result pushed them through. The 2016 Champions League winners are now hoping for a second continental trophy.
Meanwhile, Tunisia’s Esperance and Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club (WAC) make the other semi-final pair after they picked identical 3-0 victories in the second leg of the semis.
Esperance thrashed five-time African champions TP Mazembe while Wydad were in another easy win over Nigeria’s Enyimba. Esperance had lost the first leg 1-0 to Mazembe in Dar, while Wydad had a same scoreline win over Enyimba in Nigeria.