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CAF Confederation Cup final set for Morocco amid drama | Football News

Moroccan club Renaissance Berkane are due to host Egyptian outfit Zamalek on Sunday in the CAF Confederation Cup final first leg against a background of off-field drama.

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Algerian side USMA, who forfeited both legs of a semi-final in a storm over Moroccan maps on the Berkane shirts, have asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reverse those decisions.

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They also want the first leg of the title decider, scheduled for the 10,000-capacity Stade Municipal in northeastern Morocco, to be postponed.

Separately, Zamalek have requested the Confederation of African Football to change the Tunisian VAR officials chosen to handle the first encounter to those from another country.

The shirts drama began two days before the first leg was set to be played on April 21 when Algerian custom officials seized the kit as the map included the Western Sahara.

Morocco have controlled most of that sparsely populated territory, which has phosphate reserves and rich fishing grounds, since 1975.

But Algeria is opposed to Moroccan rule and backs the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for the Western Sahara.

The dispute was partly responsible for Algeria cutting diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 over what it called “hostile acts”. Morocco branded the move “completely unjustified”.

CAF ordered the Algerian authorities to return the confiscated kit and when they did not do so, Berkane refused to play and were awarded a 3-0 walkover by the African body.

Algeria argued that the shirts contained a political message that conflicts with the laws of the game and CAF and FIFA regulations.

Morocco countered that shirts including the map had been worn in Nigeria, Mali, South Africa, Congo Brazzaville and Libya en route to the semi-finals, and there had been no objections.

USMA travelled to Morocco for the return match on April 28, but refused to play, reportedly because their opponents’ shirts included the map. – Walkovers –

This led to another 3-0 walkover for Berkane over USMA, who last season won the Confederation Cup, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League, for the first time.

USMA president Kamal Hassina told the AfricaFootUnited website that his club and the Algerian Football Federation had lodged an appeal with the Switzerland-based CAS.

“USM was ready to play the first match in Algeria by making all the arrangements. We asked the CAS not to play this final or to postpone it,” said Hassina.

Meanwhile, Zamalek are unhappy with the choice of VAR officials for the first leg because the Berkane coach, Mouin Chaabani, is Tunisian.

The Cairo club say the choice of Tunisian officials is against the CAF principles of equality and impartiality.

Berkane have lifted the Confederation Cup twice after losing the 2019 final to Zamalek on penalties after both clubs won 1-0 at home.

The sole survivor from that Berkane team is captain and centre-back Issoufou Dayo, a Burkina Faso international.

He played a key role in the knockout stage this season, scoring the decisive quarter-final goal 15 minutes into added time against Libyan opponents Abu Salim.

Berkane boast an outstanding home record in the competition, winning 34 matches and drawing six, scoring 88 goals and conceding 17.

Zamalek suffered a blow when injured captain Mahmoud ‘Shikabala’ Abdelrazek was ruled out of the match in Berkane and the return encounter in Cairo on May 19.

The White Knights have a good Confederation Cup record in Morocco, losing only once in four visits, and impressed in Ghana last month when hammering Dreams 3-0 in a semi-final second leg.


This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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