10-man Wydad claw back to hold Esperance in first leg of final


Johannesburg (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca overcame having their captain sent off and two VAR referrals going against them to draw 1-1 with Esperance Tunis Saturday in the CAF Champions League final first leg.

Both goals came from Ivorians with midfielder Fousseny Coulibaly giving the Tunisian outfit a 44th-minute lead in Rabat and centre-back Cheikh Comara equalising 11 minutes from time.

Wydad and Esperance meet again next Friday in the Tunis suburb of Rades to decide who wins the elite African club competition and becomes $2.5 million (about 2.2 mn euro) richer.

Spectators and TV viewers will hope for some free-flowing football in the return match with the first leg never reaching great heights due to constant fouling by both sides.  

Drawing away makes Esperance favourites to emulate TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Enyimba of Nigeria and Al Ahly of Egypt and win back-to-back titles.  

The first leg stalemate was not surprising as three of the previous four meetings between the clubs in the Champions League were also drawn.

A cagey first half before a 50,000 crowd at the Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah in the Moroccan capital suddenly came to life as half-time approached.

Coulibaly scored his second goal of the competition with a close-range shot after his header had been parried off the goalline by Wydad goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti.

– VAR replays –

Ayoub el Amloud thought he had levelled in first-half stoppage time only for his effort to be ruled out for handball by Ismail el Haddad after the Egyptian referee watched VAR replays.

Wydad were reduced to 10 men just four minutes into the second half when captain and midfielder Brahim Nakach received a second yellow card and was sent off.

There was more VAR disappointment for the hosts soon after when penalty appeals were rejected with the referee deciding the ball hit the shoulder of an Esperance defender, not his hand. 

But Wydad never stopped trying and were finally rewarded when Comara completed a brilliantly executed move by powering a header past helpless goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia.

El Haddad took a free-kick that was nodded on by Salaheddine Saidi in a crowded goalmouth and Comara scored his first Champions League goal this season with an unstoppable header.

Mohamed Ounajem could have won the match for Wydad in stoppage time but his hastily struck close-range shot flew over.

Wydad are coached by 69-year-old Tunisian Faouzi Benzarti, who won the competition with Esperance in 1994, the first of his five successes in African club finals.

Where to find Barcelona vs. Valencia Copa del Rey final on US TV and streaming

If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Barcelona vs. Valencia in the US, we have all of the details for you about the Copa del Rey final.

Match: Barcelona vs. Valencia
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30PM ET
Looking to watch Barcelona vs. Valencia online from work, home or on the go? If you live in the USA, there are several options to catch all the action.

We Recommend:

US Only.

Here are all of the details of where you can watch it on television and via legal streaming:

Who: Barcelona vs. Valencia
What: Copa del Rey final
When: Game kicks off at 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT; Saturday, May 25, 2019
Where: Live on ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 and Sling Orange (free trial)

Note: ESPN3 is available via Sling Orange; ESPN Deportes is available via Sling Orange plus Best of Spanish TV package

With Sling Orange, you can watch Barcelona vs. Valencia and many other games from ESPNEWS with a free 7-day trial to access the ESPN networks.

With the legal streaming service, you can watch the game on your Windows 10, Chrome browser on Windows or Mac computers, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire tablet (running Android 4.4.2+), Amazon Cube, Roku players and Roku smart TVs, Samsung and LG smart TVs, Android TV, AirTV Player, ZTE, Channel Master, Apple iOS 8 (& higher) phones & tablets, Android 4.0.3 (and higher) phones & tablets and Xbox One.

Among the channels available on Sling Orange, they include A&E, Adult Swim, AMC, BBC America, Bloomberg, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, El Rey Network, ESPN, ESPN2 ESPN3, Flama, Food Network, Free Form, Galavision, HGTV, History Channel, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now, Newsy, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel and Viceland.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Serie A games on US TV and streaming

Former Tottenham manager Gross aims to end Zamalek trophy drought


Johannesburg (AFP) – Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross believes the 16-year African trophy drought of famed Egyptian club Zamalek will end Sunday near ancient Mediterranean city Alexandria. 

Coached by Gross, Zamalek lost 1-0 away to Moroccan outfit Renaissance Berkane last Sunday in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.

The 64-year-old Swiss is convinced the ‘White Knights’ can overcame the deficit at the 86,000-seat Borg el Arab Stadium, with the crowd restricted to 60,000 for security reasons.

In 2003, Zamalek won a ninth African competition by beating Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 3-1 in the CAF Super Cup match.

However, the closest they have come to African glory since was finishing runners-up to South African side Mamelodi Sundowns in the 2016 CAF Champions League final.

“I am very sad we conceded a goal right at the end,” said Gross, referring to the stoppage-time winner of Togo-born Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba in the first leg of the final.

“But we can come back at home and turn things around. We will fight to win the Confederation Cup for the sake of our supporters.

“We had several good scoring chances in Morocco, but could not convert them. I am sure it will be a different story in Alexandria.

“While Berkane are strong opponents with quality players, I promise our supporters we will give them something to cheer about.”

Gross became Tottenham manager in November 1997 and two losses in three matches at the start of the 1998/1999 season triggered his dismissal.

– Constant ridicule – 

He achieved only 10 victories in 30 matches at the London club and was the target of constant ridicule by sections of the media, particularly over his poor grasp of English.

After Tottenham, he coached clubs in Switzerland, Germany and Saudi Arabia with more success before being hired by Zamalek in July last year.

Gross inherited a team that had lived in the shadows of fellow Egyptian club and arch rivals Al Ahly for more than a decade.

While Zamalek last lifted an African trophy in 2003, Ahly have won 11 CAF titles in the past 16 years, including the Champions League five times. 

Berkane, based in the citrus fruit-producing northeastern region of Morocco, are appearing in an African final for the first time after a last-eight exit from the 2018 Confederation Cup.  

Their best known figure until recently was not a player, but an official as club chairman Faouzi Lekjaa is a vice-president of the Cairo-based Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Where to find Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig German Cup final on US TV and streaming

If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig in the US, we have all of the details for you about the DFL Pokal Cup final.

Match: Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig
Kickoff: Saturday, 2PM ET
Looking to watch Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig online from work, home or on the go? If you live in the USA, there are several options to catch all the action.

We Recommend:

US Only.

Here are all of the details of where you can watch it on television and via legal streaming:

Who: Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig
What: DFL Pokal Cup final (German Cup final)
When: Game kicks off at 2pm ET / 9am PT; Saturday, May 25, 2019
Where: Live on ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes and Sling Orange (ESPNEWS available as add-on channel) (free trial)

With Sling Orange, you can watch Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig and many other games from ESPNEWS with a free 7-day trial to access the ESPN networks.

With the legal streaming service, you can watch the game on your Windows 10, Chrome browser on Windows or Mac computers, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire tablet (running Android 4.4.2+), Amazon Cube, Roku players and Roku smart TVs, Samsung and LG smart TVs, Android TV, AirTV Player, ZTE, Channel Master, Apple iOS 8 (& higher) phones & tablets, Android 4.0.3 (and higher) phones & tablets and Xbox One.

Among the channels available on Sling Orange, they include A&E, Adult Swim, AMC, BBC America, Bloomberg, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, El Rey Network, ESPN, ESPN2 ESPN3, Flama, Food Network, Free Form, Galavision, HGTV, History Channel, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now, Newsy, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel and Viceland.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Serie A games on US TV and streaming

US star Rapinoe takes aim at FIFA over final clash


New York (AFP) – United States star Megan Rapinoe hit out at world football’s governing body FIFA on Friday, criticising “ridiculous” scheduling that will leave the Women’s World Cup final clashing with the climax of two other continental championships.

Speaking at a media event in New York ahead of the USA’s final home friendly before next month’s finals in France, Rapinoe said FIFA was still not doing enough to promote women’s football.

Rapinoe, a veteran of the USA’s 2015 World Cup triumph , voiced particular dismay at the fixture clash which means the finals of the women’s World Cup, Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup will all be played on July 7.

“Obviously, it is very disappointing,” the 33-year-old told reporters. 

“I think there’s two (other) finals on the same day and the other tournaments going on at the same exact time.

“Yeah, it’s ridiculous and disappointing to be honest.”

Rapinoe said the fixture pile-up was symptomatic of a FIFA which failed to throw its full weight behind the women’s game.

“I think there have been strides that have been made, but in terms of their capacity for change and the ability for them to change – obviously they have essentially unlimited resources – I don’t think that it’s really been a huge change at all,” she said.

“I think, sort of, the incremental change that we’ve seen is just not enough and I don’t think that’s really the model that needs to happen. 

“I would like to see a major paradigm shift and sort of a major overhaul and kind of a double-down realizing that there has been such a lack of investment for all of these years and such a lack of care and attention that double or tripling or quadrupling investment care, attention to the women’s game I think would be appropriate. 

“Incremental change is better than none at all, but for the resources and for the ability that I feel that FIFA has to implement that change I think that they’re not doing nearly enough.”

FIFA has doubled the amount of prize money to be shared between the 24 teams competing at this year’s World Cup, from $15 million in 2015 to $30 million.

However the cash increase is dwarfed by the amounts distributed at the men’s World Cup, where more than $400 million was shared amongst 32 teams in 2018.

The $15 million increase for this year’s tournament is also less than half of the $40 million raise the men’s tournament will receive in 2022.