Simba and Wydad Casablanca get a second chance in the CAF Champions League at TP Mazembe’s expense

When TP Mazembe won their second leg against Wydad Casablanca by two goals to nil, overturning a first leg 1-0 defeat, it looked certain that they had made the group stages of the CAF Champions League. However, a protest from Simba Sports of Tanzania (who Mazembe had knocked out in a previous round) regarding the eligibility of Mazembe defender Janvier Bokungu was heard by CAF and the African giants TP Mazembe were thrown out of the competition. Bokungu had recently (seemingly) rejoined the DR Congo giants from Esperance of Tunisia and had played in both legs against Simba Sport.  It was a sad end to the competition for TP Mazembe who were aiming to win an unprecedented third consecutive CAF Champions League after winning the 2009 and 2010 editions. They have appealed against the CAF decision, but it looks unlikely that the appeal will be successful.

Even TP Mazembe’s tie against Wydad Casablanca wasn’t free from controversy. The Moroccans, disappointed with some of the referee’s decision making took things a little too far after the final whistle. My favourite part of the following clip is 3 mins 40 seconds in where a TP Mazembe official attempts to protect himself using a “FIFA Fair Play Banner” against the Wydad goalkeeper wielding a stick.

This leaves both Simba Sport and Wydad Casablanca fighting it out for the eighth and final place in the group stages of the Champions League (with all of the other ties now complete). They will play each other in Cairo this Saturday (May 28th) in a winner takes all game to decide who will take their place in the group stages. Interestingly CAF have decreed that if the game is level after 90 minutes the game goes directly to a penalty shoot-out. It’s also worthwhile to note that the losers of ties in the last round before the group stages of this competition are entered into the CAF Confederations Cup where ironically they will face another side from the DR Congo (Motema Pembe).

Whilst Wydad Casablanca are in the midst of a title fight in Morocco, currently lying second against city rivals Raja Casablanca, Simba’s season ended a month ago and with this tie thrust upon them they have had to scrabble around in order to build a team capable of mounting a challenge. The Dar es Salaam club have only recently employed a new manager in Moses Basena, who was until recently Uganda manager (and Scotland’s finest) Bobby Williamson’s assistant. He was originally employed to lead the club into the CECAFA Kegame Cup (a tournament for sides from the Eastern part of Africa), but it looks as if he has a game a little more serious to deal with before that tournament begins next month.

Basena’s first move as Simba coach was a slightly unorthodox and deeply strange one considering the circumstances he found himself in. A month or so before Basena took the job as Simba coach the club sold Mbwana Samatta and Patrick Ochan to TP Mazembe after the pair impressed against them in the early round of the Champions League. As Simba still hold the CAF Champions League registration for those players they requested Mazembe release them to play for Simba in this one off match. Incredibly TP Mazembe have agreed to allow these two players to play for a club who have effectively taken their place in the Champions League.

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