Vita won 1-0 at Egyptians Zamalek Sunday to seal CAF Champions League semi-finals places for themselves and fellow Democratic Republic of Congo club TP Mazembe.
Only a Zamalek victory at Alexandria Stadium in the Mediterranean city could prevent the Congolese advancing from Group A, but the ‘White Knights’ fell to a second-half Yunus Sentamu goal.
It was the first goal scored in the premier African club competition by the Uganda national team striker, who turns 20 this Wednesday. The Mazembe ‘Ravens’ and the Vita ‘Black Dolphins’ have ten points each ahead of a final matchday clash in Kinshasa this month to decide who finishes top of the table.
Five-time African champions Zamalek and Sudanese El-Hilal have four points each and their Omdurman fixture will determine who avoids last place in the mini-league. Draws would favour four-time African champions Mazembe and Zamalek on the head-to-head rule as both won at home against their final-round rivals.
Mazembe were convincing 3-1 winners over Hilal at Stade Kamalondo in southern Congolese mining city Lubumbashi several hours before the Zamalek-Vita game kicked off. Goals from Zambian Rainford Kalaba, Ghanaian Solomon Asante and Malian Amara Traore secured maximum points for Mazembe emphasised the multi-national composition of the team.
Hilal, whose only group win came against Mazembe in the opening round, wasted several good scoring chances before Mudathir ‘Careca’ Eltaib netted in stoppage time. Tunisians CS Sfaxien and Algerians Entente Setif secured semi-finals places from Group B at the expense of Tunisians Esperance and Libyans Al-Ahly Benghazi.
Sfaxien won 1-0 away to Benghazi thanks to a mid-second goal from Ferjani Sassi, his first in the competition this year. A thriller between Setif and Esperance ended 2-2 with Akram Djahnit on target twice for the Algerian ‘Black Eagles’ and Ahmed Akaichi bagging a brace for the Tunisian ‘Blood and Gold’.
Sfaxien have ten points and Setif nine ahead of a final matchday clash while Esperance and Benghazi, with four each, must play for pride. The CAF Champions League offers a $1.5m first prize and passage to the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.