The Chronicle

Johannesburg – African debutants Pyramids of Egypt confirmed on Sunday that they are the team to beat in the Caf Confederation Cup after crushing Nouadhibou of Mauritania 6-0 in Cairo.

Egyptian Mohamed Farouk and Burkinabe Eric Traore scored twice each and Ghanaian John Antwi and Ivorian Wilfried Kanon once for the expensively assembled side, who led 2-0 at half-time.

It was the seventh victory in eight qualifying and group matches for Pyramids under French coach Sebastien Desabre, with the other game drawn.

They lead fellow Egyptian club Al Masry on goal difference in Group A, six points clear of Enugu Rangers of Nigeria and Nouadhibou after two rounds.

“My goals this season are to challenge for the Egyptian title and to win the Confederation Cup,” says Desabre, who took Uganda to the Africa Cup of Nations last 16 this year.

Pyramids were formerly known as Al Assiouty Sport and the club has benefitted greatly from the financial backing of two Middle East businessmen.

Saudi Turki al Sheikh bought Assiouty in 2018, changed the name to Pyramids, hired a succession of foreign coaches and bankrolled a string of signings.

He sold the club to Emirati Salem al Shamsi, who has further strengthened the squad with Tunisian Amor Layouni, Ugandan Lumala Abdu and Kanon among the signings.

A few hours before Pyramids ran riot, Masry defeated Enugu 4-2 in coastal city Alexandria after leading by four goals with four minutes remaining.

Goals from Nigerian Austin Amutu, Ahmed Nasser, Libyan Moftah Taktak and Hassan Ali put the hosts in a commanding position before Enugu rallied to make the scoreline more respectful.

Nigeria assistant coach Salisu Yusuf was seconded to Rangers after they won only once of five league matches at the start of the domestic season.

But he has made a disappointing start in Africa with the loss to Masry coming seven days after they were well beaten at home by Pyramids.

Other clubs to watch in the pursuit of a $1.25 million (1.1 mn euros) first prize are Renaissance Berkane and Hassania Agadir of Morocco and Horoya of Guinea.

Berkane, runners-up to Zamalek of Egypt last season in the African equivalent of the Uefa Europa League, held Zanaco of Zambia 1-1 in Lusaka to lead Group B.

Burkinabe Djibril Ouattara put the club from northeast Morocco ahead on 15 minutes with his second Caf goal in as many matches and Charles Zulu levelled before half-time.

Horoya, a hugely ambitious club under wealthy owner Antonio Souare, outplayed Al Nasr of Libya 3-0 in Conakry to top Group C.

Veteran Burkina Faso forward Aristide Bance, Heritier Makambo from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwean Tafadzwa Kutinyu scored for the multi-national outfit.

Mehdi Oubila netted midway through the first half and captain Yassine Rami scored just after half-time to earn Hassania an impressive 2-0 away win over Paradou of Algeria in Blida.

They lead Group D by three points from former African champions Enyimba of Nigeria, who edged San Pedro of the Ivory Coast 1-0 in Aba thanks to a second-half goal from Martins Usule. 

Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Andile Jali has been included in the Caf Champions League Team of the Week for his fine display against Wydad Casablanca.

Jali found himself on the fringes of the first-team squad last season and at the beginning of the current one. Indeed, the former Orlando Pirates playmaker made just 15 appearances for the Brazilians last season since returning from a four-year stint in Belgium.

But in recent times, the 29-year-old has firmly re-established himself as the premier central midfielder in South African football. He looks fitter, leaner and hungrier and his performance in the 0-0 draw with Wydad in Casablanca on Saturday earned him the man-of-the-match award and a place alongside Africa’s finest in the team of the week.

Jali is the only South African in the team and has been selected in a three-man midfield alongside Al Ahly duo Amr El Solia and Mohammed Magdy Afsha.

The defence is made up of Wael Gomaa (Ah Ahly), Abdel Kader Bedrane (Esparance de Tunis), Abdllatif Noussir (Wydad Casablanca), Sanad Al-Warfali (Al Ahli Tripoli) and goalkeeper Achraf Krir (Etoile de Sahel).

Other players included in the team are strikers Karimi Aribi (Etoile de Sahel), Anice Badri (Esperance de Tunis) and Achraf Bencharki (Zamelek).

The Brazilians, who are at the summit of Group C with four points after two games, will next travel to Algeria for their next match against USM Alger on December 27. – Sport24. – AFP.