South Africa

Weekend Guide 28.11.2015

There are people who like to travel the world and to see new places; the Weekend Guide is here to make your travels even more interesting. This week we will visit the derby of Sofia, a high profile match in Qatar and finally, a glorious final in Africa.

Amateur (Like these dancers)

What? Levski Sofia – Slavia Sofia (Bulgarian A Football Group)

When? Sunday, 1645

Where? Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, Sofia

Why? The biggest team in Bulgaria, Levski Sofia, didn't win a title since 2009. They are currently leading the table after 16 matches. Slavia will try to hold them back, even though they are just on 5th place.

Key Players: Levski's Radoslav Tsonev is one of the hot prospects of Bulgarian football, as he just 20 years old and already have important role in the team. Don't miss Slavia's Ivaylo Dimitrov, who played for years in the lower divisions of Bulgaria and now he is a rising star in the league with 5 goals.

In the name of the Hero: Slavia is a common name for Eastern European clubs, but Levski is a unique one. The club named after Bulgaria national hero, Vasil Levski, who was one of the Bulgarian liberation movement leaders from the 19th century.

Professional (like this goal)

What? Al Rayyan – Al Jaish (Qatar Stars League)

When? Saturday, 1530

Where? Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan

Why? Al Rayyan opened the season with an insane record - 9 consecutive wins. Al Jaish will try to stop them and close the gap while they are in 2nd place, 4 points behind.

Key Players: The Qatari league always produces unstoppable scorers, and Al Rayyan has the Brazilian-Qatari of Japanese background Rodrigo Tabata, who scored 10 goals in 9 matches. Al Jaish has a much younger star than the 35 years old striker -  Abderrazak Hamdallah, 24 years old Moroccan who came in a free transfer from China, and scored 8 goals.

International Coach: Al Rayyan's manager, Jorge Fossati, won the Qatari title in 2007, after he triumphed at 3 other countries – Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay.

World Class (like these fans)

What? Étoile du Sahel – Orlando Pirates (CAF Confederation Cup)

When? Sunday, 1930

Where? Stade Olympique de Sousse, Sousse

Why? After a 1:1 tie in the first leg, the tension is high in the CAF Confederation Cup final. Étoile du Sahel won the tournament in 2006, and a year later won the CAF Champions League. They wish to continue the Tunisian dominance in the tournament with 5th title for their country. Orlando Pirates was the first South African club to win the CAF Champions League in 1995 and now they can be the first South African club to win the secondary club tournament in the continent.

Key Players: Aymen Mathlouthi is Étoile du Sahel goalkeeper since 2003 and one of the indispensable players of the club. In Orlando Pirates you should look at Thamsanqa Gabuza, the player who scored in the first leg, and has 5 more goals in the tournament, making him a real contender for the golden boot award.

Lost and Found: Orlando Pirates' all-time league top scorer Benedict Vilakazi played in some interesting clubs during the past years. He played in Swaziland, Botswana and his current club is Botswana Meat Commission F.C. Sounds like it is BBQ time!

Weekend Guide 30.10.2015

This Weekend Guide could witness some history in the making.

Two teams dream about their first title in South Africa, a sensational first division debutant in Tunisia, and a historical continental title in Asia.

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Amateur (Like this guy)

What? Bidvest Wits – Bloemfontein Celtic (South African Premier Division)

When? Saturday, 1915

Where? Bidvest Stadium, Johannesburg

Why? Those are the first days of the season in South Africa, and everything is still extremely tight. Between the 1st and the 6th place, the difference is only 3 points. Among these teams you can find Bidvest Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic, both never won the domestic title, but now are dreaming on doing so.

Key Players: During the last summer break, Bidvest Wits strengthened their squad with Daine Klate, who previously won 5 consecutive domestic championships. The one who leads Bloemfontein Celtic is the captain Bevan Fransman that had great time abroad while playing in Belgium and Israel.

In the Middle of the Conflict: The Ugandan striker of Bloemfontein Celtic, Geofrey Massa, played 3 years in one of the most disputed areas in the world. He played for Yenicami Ağdelen, the team of the northern side of the divided city of Nicosia, in the league of Turkish Cyprus.

Professional (like this guy)

What? EO Sidi Bouzid – CS Sfaxien (Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1)

When? Sunday, 1430

Where? Stade Sidi Bouzid, Sidi Bouzid

Why? It's matchday no. 6 in Tunisia and we have a sensational team in the top places. Sidi Bouzid promoted last season for the first time ever and they are ranked in 2nd place after four consecutive wins. Sfaxien are the league leaders and has the best attack in the league.

Key Players: At the newly promoted Sidi Bouzid you can find the experienced

Aymen Ben Amor, which won 4 Tunisian titles and the CAF Champions League. Pay attention as well to Ezechiel N'Douassel, the Chadian striker who played previously in Tunisia for Club Africain.

Egyptian Trauma: Sfaxien lost 5 continental finals, 3 of them were against the same club, Al Ahly from Egypt. The first time was in 2006 CAF Champions League final, while the next two were in 2009 & 2014 CAF Super Cup.

World Class (like these guys)

What? Istiklol – Johor Darul Ta'zim (AFC Cup)

When? Saturday, 1300

Where? Pamir Stadium, Dushnabe

Why? The AFC Cup is a great chance for team from minor Asian football nations to get continental experience. Tajiki clubs won the President Cup 4 times already, as Istiklol already grabbed it once, in 2012. Malaysian teams are playing at the continental levels for more than 50 years, but Johor Darul Ta'zim are the first Malaysian club ever to qualify to an Asian final.

Key Players: Istiklol will base on Manuchekhr Dzhalilov, one of the best players in the Tajiki football and the domestic league top scorer with 18 goals. Johor Darul Ta'zim also has a local star, Mohd Safiq Rahim, which led his team for two consecutive titles since his arrival.

Thanks to Kuwait: Both teams didn't considered aqualification, as both were defeated badly in the semifinals first leg. The suspension of Kuwait by FIFA led the AFC to disqualify their representatives, so both Istklol and Darul Ta’zim were promoted.