African debutants Dreams from Ghana into CAF Cup semis

CAF competition debutants Dreams of Ghana reached the Confederation Cup semi-finals on Sunday despite being held 1-1 at home by former title-holders Stade Malien from Mali.

The African rookies triumphed 3-2 on aggregate after winning the first leg of the quarter-final 2-1 in Bamako last weekend.

But the newcomers had to endure some anxiety after falling behind 59 minutes into the second leg when Yoro Diaby scored for 2009 winners Stade.

A centre-back, Diaby scored his third goal this season in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League when he pounced a loose ball after a free-kick to fire home from close range.

Dreams equalised 11 minutes later through substitute Sylvester Simba, then prevented a second Malien goal which would have taken the west African showdown to a penalty shootout.

Simba hammered the ball into the net after winning possession at the far post when Stade goalkeeper N’Golo Traore let a corner slip from his grasp.

After having a first-half goal ruled offside, Dreams were unlucky not to take the lead soon after half-time when livewire Agyenim Mensah struck the post with a drive.

Mensah put the ball in the net with 12 minutes remaining, but the impressive Ethiopian referee disallowed the goal for offside.

The reward for the Ghanaian outfit is a two-leg semi-final against 2018 Confederation Cup winners Zamalek of Egypt on April 21 and 28, with the first match in Cairo.

Zamalek drew 1-1 Modern Future in the second leg of an all-Egyptian affair to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Cameroonian Jonathan Ngwem scored direct from a corner for Future after 13 minutes in Cairo and Ahmed Hamdy equalised on 66 minutes.

While Dreams are competing in Africa for the first time, Zamalek won the first of 11 titles in four CAF competitions 40 years ago.

The Cairo football team known as the White Knights was created in 1911 — 98 years before the formation of Dreams.

Later on Sunday, Rivers United of Nigeria defend a 1-0 aggregate lead away to title-holders USM Alger of Algeria.

In the final second leg, two-time Confederation Cup winners Renaissance Berkane of Morocco host Abu Salim of Libya after a goalless first encounter. BSS


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