Africa roundup: Raja coach confident despite fitness concerns

·4-min read
Raja Casablanca coach Jamal Sellami believes his club can reach a fifth CAF Champions League final.

Africa roundup: Raja coach confident despite fitness concerns

Raja Casablanca coach Jamal Sellami believes his club can reach a fifth CAF Champions League final.

Raja Casablanca coach Jamal Sellami is convinced the Moroccan club will reach the CAF Champions League final Wednesday while admitting his players are less fit than Egyptian opponents Zamalek. 

A recent coronavirus outbreak at Raja sidelined 16 of the squad and training was limited in the build-up to the second leg of the semi-final in Cairo with Zamalek leading 1-0 on aggregate.

"My team is not physically fit in comparison with Zamalek, but we have many experienced players who are capable of making a difference in crucial moments," said Sellami.

Here, AFP Sport rounds up football news from Africa.

Morocco

To qualify for the Champions League final against Al Ahly of Egypt on November 27 in Alexandria, Raja must defeat Zamalek for the first time in the elite African club competition.

They clashed in the 2002 final with the first leg in Morocco ending goalless and Zamalek winning the return match in Egypt 1-0 to achieve the last of five successes in the competition.

Zamalek won the first leg of the semi-final this season in Casablanca last month through a goal from a Moroccan, forward Achraf Bencharki.

Egypt

While former Champions League-winning footballer Sellami has been vocal about his confidence that Raja can overturn the deficit, Zamalek coach Jaime Pacheco is saying little.

"I came back to Egypt because I love Zamalek and my target is to win the Champions League," said the Portuguese, who returned to Cairo in September after a brief previous spell in charge six years ago.

"We are in a good position after winning the first leg but there is still another game to play and Raja are a strong side."

Kenya

Popular but success-starved Kenyan club AFC Leopards have hired Czech Tomas Trucha as coach ahead of the 2020/2021 season.

Adding to the pain of Leopards supporters as they seek a first Premier League title since 1998 is the fact that arch rivals Gor Mahia have won the last four editions.

Trucha replaces Rwandan Andre Mbungo and moves to Nairobi after coaching two Botswana clubs, Township Rollers and Orapa United.

South Africa

Former Kaizer Chiefs footballer-turned-analyst Junior Khanye has slammed the new coach of the club, Gavin Hunt, after a second three-goal hiding in four matches since the season kicked off.

Chiefs lost 3-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns and by the same score to greatest rivals Orlando Pirates, leading Khanye to comment that Hunt is worse than his German predecessor Ernst Middendorp.

"I cannot remember the last time Chiefs conceded six goals in two matches against Sundowns and Pirates. No matter how poor the team was in the past, we never suffered such humiliation," said Khanye.

Zambia

Zambia coach Milutin Sredojevic is not overly concerned that he may have to do without injured Salzburg forward Patson Daka for home and away Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana this month.

"The absence of Patson would be a major blow, but we have scored 10 goals in five warm-up matches at an average of two per game," said the upbeat Serb.

"It is important to have an alternative plan in case Patson and other foreign-based professionals are unavailable due to injuries or coronavirus-related travel difficulties."

Mozambique

Mozambique coach Luis Goncalves has told his squad not to be intimidated by five-time African champions Cameroon when they meet twice this month in Cup of Nations qualifiers. 

"The Indomitable Lions are far superior to the Mambas (snakes). Just look at the quality of the players they have and the championships where they play," he said.

"However, we have a very strong spirit and some of our players are based in Europe. It will be 11 against 11 on the pitch and our aim is to win every match."

Namibia

Namibia will be captained by leading South African Premiership forward Peter Shalulile when they play back-to-back Cup of Nations qualifiers against Mali between November 9 and 17.

Shalulile scored 16 goals last season to share the Premiership Golden Boot award with Malawian Frank 'Gabadinho' Mhango of Orlando Pirates.

The 27-year-old has since left Highlands Park, who sold their top-flight status, and joined 10-time champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

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