Wydad Casablanca will have the honour of representing Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 thanks to a 2-1 aggregate win over Egypt’s Al Ahly in the final of the 53rd CAF Champions League.
Wydad made a sluggish start to their campaign against Gabonese side Mounana in the first round. After a 1-0 home win in the first leg, the Moroccans went down by the same scoreline in the second, scraping through 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.
In the group phase, Wydad were drawn against eventual final opponents Al Ahly, Zanaco of Zambia and Coton Sport of Cameroon. The Moroccans won all their home games and their away match at Coton, but lost to Al Ahly and Zanaco on the road. Their tally of 12 points was nevertheless enough for them to win the section.
Beaten 1-0 away in the first leg of their quarter-final tie with Mamelodi Sundowns, Houcine Ammouta’s side won by the same score in the return leg and clinched a place in the semis in the resulting penalty shootout. In the last four they followed up a goalless draw at USM Alger with a comprehensive 3-1 victory in the second leg.
Achraf Bencharki’s fine header from Mohamed Ounajem’s cross gave Wydad a vital 1-1 draw in the first leg of the final in Alexandria. Bencharki then turned provider in the return, setting up Walid El Karti for the goal that gave the Moroccan side their first Champions League trophy in a quarter of a century.
- Wydad proved their mettle with that tense shoot-out win over defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals.
- Saladin Said of Saint George and Taha Yassine Khenissi of Esperance de Tunis ended the tournament as the highest scorers with seven goals each. Wydad’s Bencharki finished just off the pace with five goals.
- Champions League winners for a record eighth time in 2013, Al Ahly will have to wait at least one more year before making it nine.
5 – the number of goals Bencharki struck in the group and knockout stages of the competition. The striker was instrumental to his side’s success. After scoring a brace and providing an assist to settle Wydad’s semi-final tie against USM Alger, he struck a vital away goal in the first leg of the final and then teed up El Karti for the all-important winner in the return, a goal that secured Wydad a trip to UAE 2017.
Did you know?
Wydad Casablanca will take on Pachuca of Mexico in the quarter-finals of this December’s Club World Cup. The Moroccans will hope to follow in the footsteps of crosstown rivals Raja Casablanca, who reached the final of the competition on home soil in 2013, where they lost to Bayern Munich.
What they said
“We give our thanks to God for making the people of Morocco so happy, which is what we’ve been aiming to do right from the start. We won the title because we stayed patient, persevered and fought. My congratulations to everyone. God willing, we will also be celebrating the national team’s qualification for the World Cup next Saturday.” Wydad coach Houcine Ammouta
“This trophy means so much to the people of Morocco, who’ve been waiting for it for a long time. It’s a great honour for us to go down in history and to do so in such style.”Wydad goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi.