African Soccer chiefs will hope Friday’s Super Cup clash between Tunisia’s Esperance and Egypt’s Zamalek in Doha will conceal the fiasco over the way in which Esperance qualified.
The Tunisian side won the AFC Champions League after opponents Wydad Casablanca abandoned the final in protest at the organisers’ decision not to use VAR.
The match was stopped for more than an hour with the Moroccan side insisting they had not been informed that the video referee would not be deployed in the play.
Esperance were named the winners by the Court of Arbitration for after a serious legal battle that did nothing to build the image African football that is already over tainted by scandals.
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad is facing corruption, financial misappropriation and sexual harassment allegations but has chosen not to comment on them.
The Friday fixture is also facing political pitfalls after Zamalek initially said they would boycott since Egypt is one of the four countries enforcing an economic boycott of Qatar for allegedly aiding radical Islamist groups but Qatar has denied the allegations.
The Super Cup is an annual one-off match pitting the winner of the CAF Champions League against a second-tier CAF Confederation Cup. The match was always staged in Africa till last year when organizers moved it to Qatar.
This year’s edition with a 20,000 capacity crowd expected may serve as a test for Qatar’s infrastructure but not for any of the 2022 World Cup venues because the match will be held at Al Gharafa, not any of the 2022 stadiums.
Esperance, known as “Blood and Gold” and “the White Knights” of Zamalek are among the top African clubs. Esperance have won the Cup once and while the Egyptian side has lifted the trophy three times.
Esperance has as many as seven foreign players including four Algerians in the starting eleven but their star defender Abdelkader Bedrane will miss the game due to injury but Zamalek rely heavily on Egyptian players including star forward Mostafa Mohamed.