DRC stampede stadium to host CAF club game
15 May 2014, 11:20
Johannesburg - The Kinshasa stadium where 15 spectators died last Sunday in a stampede will host a CAF Champions League group match this weekend.
A Confederation of African Football (CAF) statement said the Group A matchday 1 fixture between local club Vita and Egyptians Zamalek would go ahead Sunday before 5,000 spectators.
Stade Tata Raphael in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital officially accommodates 30,000 people.
Zamalek wanted the clash of former African champions moved out of the vast central African country after a tragedy which left dozens injured.
"We requested that the fixture be moved from DR Congo," club president Mortada Mansour told the Egyptian media.
CAF said priority would be given to Vita supporters with membership cards and top Congolese football officials had visited the stadium to plan an incident-free fixture.
Those who died were crushed trying to escape teargas fired by police after disgruntled Vita fans hurled missiles on the pitch after a 1-0 home defeat by arch-rivals TP Mazembe.
Victory ensured Mazembe retained the league title and relegated Vita to third place on the final DR Congo Super League table,
That means Vita will miss the 2015 CAF Champions League unless they greatly exceed expectations and win the premier African club competition this year.
Vita came through a CAF qualifying schedule from 'hell' to reach the eight-club mini-league phase, eliminating Nigerians Kano Pillars, Zimbabweans Dynamos and South Africans Kaizer Chiefs.
Firmin Mubele bagged a hat-trick against Chiefs at Tata Raphael and the 20-year-old now faces a formidable Zamalek defence backed by veteran goalkeeper Abdul Wahed El Sayed.
The Egyptians, who won the last of five Champions League titles 12 years ago, did not concede a goal in six qualifiers.
Sudanese El-Hilal and Mazembe are the other Group A clubs chasing a top-two finish and a semi-finals place.
They kick off the six-matchday mini-league series Friday with a game in Omdurman, where Hilal and Mazembe shared four goals in a 2008 group draw.
Neither side was particularly impressive in the qualifiers with both relying on the away-goal rule to book group places.
Title favourites and just-crowned Tunisian champions Esperance get the Group B ball rolling Saturday at home to Algerians Entente Setif and are expected to secure maximum points.
"We have just won the Tunisian title and I want to win the CAF Champions League too," stressed Dutch coach Ruud Krol to local reporters.
"I know all our opponents in the group and my team will do its best to qualify."
Setif share with Zamalek the distinction of not conceding a goal in the qualifiers, but a major challenge awaits them at the Stade Olympique in six-goal Haythem Jouini.
He is the joint leading Champions League scorer this season, with his total including a hat-trick against Kenyans Gor Mania in Tunis.
CS Sfaxien, the other Tunisian club in the group and favourites to advance with Esperance, host surprise qualifiers Al-Ahly Benghazi Sunday.
The Libyans dumped defending champions Al-Ahly of Egypt in the final qualifying round, winning at home and away.
Fakhreddine Ben Youssef is the goal-a-game Sfaxien danger man while Zimbabwe-born Benghazi striker Edward Sadomba has also struck four Champions League goals this season.