The CAF Champions League final was supposed to be the main event of African football. Instead it initiated a huge saga and Uri Levy tries to describe what happened since Friday night.
The Tunisian champions committed a ‘Remontada’ in the African Champions League final second leg, becoming the best Arab club in the world at the moment.
As usual, The Weekend Guide have some great games for you this issue. Great runs who might end in the Tunisian title race, last matchday in Iran with three teams and one title, and a short but musical visit in Korea.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this miss)
What? Espérance de Tunis – Étoile du Sahel (Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1)
When? Sunday, 1630
Where? Stade Olympique de Radès, Tunis
Why? With amazing runs of these two teams, only one can be the Tunisian champion. Étoile du Sahel are leading the table with 66 points and a single defeat in the whole season, while Espérance de Tunis are behind them with 64 points.
Key Players: In both of the teams’ rosters there are youngsters that had a great season with 22 appearances and 8 goals each. Espérance's Saad Bguir also scored his first international goal last November in his debut. Étoile's Alaya Brigui is a homegrown player who already won 3 cups with his club and now close to first championship.
Proud Tunisian, Proud Arab: Even though their names are in French, both of the teams has official names also in Arabic – Taraji for Espérance (Hope) and Nejmeh for Étoile (Star).
Professional (like that kick)
What?Iranian Persian Gulf League Pro final matchday, Esteghlal Khuzestan – Zob Ahan; Persepolis – Rah Ahan; Saba Qom - Esteghlal
When? Friday, 1530
Where? Ghadir Stadium, Ahvaz;Azadi Stadium, Tehran; Yadegar-e Emam Stadium, Qom
Why? We have special final matchday in Iran, with three team that each have chance to win the title. Esteghlal Khuzestan are on the way to their first title ever with 54 points. The two mega clubs of Iran didn't lose their hopes, as Persepolis is tied for the 1st place with 54 points, and Esteghlal are 3rd with 51.
Key Players: Three Iranian players are the dominant figures in those teams. Khuzestan's Hassan Beyt Saeed is 26 years old who is making a great debut season in the top tier with 9 goals. Persepolis' Mehdi Taremi is one of the lethal scorers in the league with 16 goals. Esteghlal will try to keep a clean sheet with Mehdi Rahmati, who capped 77 times as Iran national team goalkeeper.
The Independence: Esteghlal, which means independence in Persian, is a common name for Iranian clubs. Even Esteghlal Khuzestan local rivals named with the same name - Esteghlal Ahvaz.
World Class (like this goal)
What? Seongnam FC – FC Seoul (Korean K-League Classic)
When? Saturday, 0800
Where? Tancheon Stadium, Seongnam
Why? The Korean league is still warming up, but it's a chance to take a look one two of the league’s strong teams currently. Seongnam FC has 7 championships, more than any other K-League team, FC Seoul have 5 title. Currently, FC Seoul are leading the table with 19 points, Seongnam FC are 1 point behind in the 3rd place.
Key Players: It's not so common to find a young goalkeeper, but Seongnam have faith in Kim Dong Jun, a 21 years old, as the team conceded only 8 goals, less than any other team in the league. FC Seoul have Adriano, the top goal scorer in the K-League with 6 goals.
Playing with the Band: Adriano's goal celebration gained him the nickname "Adriano Michael Jackson". It's even got better when he played at Atlético Goianiense alongside with player nicknamed "John Lennon".
The weekend is here and we have three great matches for you. For the beginners, we have a great Hungarian match. For the more experienced visitors, we have a North African derby in the CAF Confederations Cup. Our Baba-Addicts will have a special match, classic match with lot of passion from El Salvador.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like these guys)
What? Debrecen – Ferencváros (Hungarian Nemzeti Bajnokság I)
When? Saturday, 2030
Where? Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen
Why? An insane opening for the season led Ferencváros to the 1st place with 5 wins out of 5 matches. The club dreams about a first title since 2004. Their opponents, Debrecen, are one of the expected contenders for the title, are in 4th place.
Key Players: Debrecen's forward, Geoffrey Castillion, who was part of Ajax youth teams but failed to reach the senior team, and now he plays in Hungary after great season in Romania. Ferencváros’ Dániel Böde is one of the best scorers in the league at the moment, with 6 goals so far.
Special figure: Brazilian midfielder Leandro played 4 years for Ferencváros and 3 more years in Debrecen, before he left to Cyprus. He became a Hungarian citizen and made 13 caps for the national team. After 5 years, he returned in the last summer to Ferencváros.
Professional (like these guys)
Espérance de Tunis – Al Ahly (CAF Confederations Cup)
When? Saturday, 2000
Where? Stade Olympique de Radès, Radès
Why? Two former African Champions League winners will play in order to clinch a semifinal spot. For Espérance it's the last chance to stay in the race. Al Ahly will have to win in order to complete their task in their title defending journey.
Key Players: Espérance leader is Hocine Ragued, the French-Tunisian midfielder who arrived in Tunisia after playing in Belgium, Czech Republic and Turkey. The star of Al Ahly is Emad Moteab, who score the winning goal in the last CAF Confederations Cup final.
World Class (like this guy)
What? Águila – Alianza (Salvadoran Primera División)
When? Sunday, 0300
Where? Estadio Juan Francisco Barraza, San Miguel
Why? El Clásico Centro Oriente, the mid-east classic of El Salvador.
After 4 games, Águila are leading the table with 10 points. Alianza are in the 3rd place with 8 points. Moreover, both teams are the only who haven't lost yet.
Key Players: Take a look on Deris Umanzor, the 35 years old defender of Águila, who plays in Águila for the ninth season and made a short travel for the MLS. Alianza will be led by Rodolfo Zelaya, 27 years old striker, who is one of the well-known Salvadoran players today.
Special Figure: Mario Mayén Meza was one of the greatest names in El Slavador's football during the 90's. He won three national titles in Alianza, and three more in Águila. He played also for FAS, which means he played for 3 out of the 4 big clubs in the country. Bravo loco!