2013 Confederation Cup: Semi-final Quartet is Complete

The Confederation Cup semi-final quartet After this weekend’ s final group matches in the Orange CAF Confederation Cup it is down to the business end of the competition with four clubs left to battle it out in the semis.

CA Bizertin face Sfaxien in an all-Tunisia semi-final during October and Stade Malian meet Group B winners TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stade Malien won the battle against Etoile Sahel Sunday for the last Orange CAF Confederation Cup semi-finals place after both were involved in goalless draws. The Malians held runaway Group A winners CS Sfaxien in Tunis and Saint George shared the points in Ethiopia with Tunisian visitors Etoile. Sfaxien finished the six-round mini-league unbeaten with 14 points followed by Stade (eight), Etoile (six) and Saint George (four) in the second-tier African club competition.

CA Bizertin face Sfaxien in an all-Tunisia semi-final during October and Stade meet title favourites and Group B winners TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mazembe lost their final mini-league outing 2-0 away to Moroccans FUS Rabat Saturday while Bizertin fell 1-0 at Algerians Entente Setif. Sfaxien dominated Stade at Stade El-Menzah despite lacking five suspended stars, but could not complete a double after winning 2-1 in Mali during August.

Stade needed a point to be sure of progressing and spent most the game protecting goalkeeper and captain Soumalia Diakite. It was the first time twice Confederation Cup title-holders Sfaxien failed to win at home in 12 group games spanning four editions. Stade, also previous winners of the competition, appeared doomed with just one point after three rounds, but two consecutive victories turned the tide.

While Malien climbed, 2006 title-holders Etoile fell, taking just three points from a possible 12 and placing the future of French coach Denis Lavagne in jeopardy. The team from Mediterranean resort Sousse found it hard to create openings 2,300 metres (7,550 feet) above sea level in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Fahmi Kacem did squander a chance to break the deadlock — but even a win would not have been enough as Stade boasted a better head-to-head record.

FUS, another club to lift the Confederation Cup, bowed out after giving their best group performance to defeat 2010 FIFA Club World Cup runners-up Mazembe convincingly. Oussama Halfi scored his first CAF club goal on 38 minutes and Hicham El-Araoui achieved a similar feat early in the second half at Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah.

With Mazembe losing, Bizertin had a chance to overtake them by winning at bottom team Setif, but the hosts grabbed a first mini-league win via a late Lyes Boukria goal. It was a timely boost for new Bosnia-born Setif coach Faruk Hadzibegic after Frenchman Hubert Velud paid the price for a four-game winless African run and indifferent domestic form. Mazembe finished with 10 points, Bizertin and FUS gathered eight each with the Tunisians finishing higher on the head-to-head rule, and 1988 African champions Setif collected a meagre six points.

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