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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

CAFCL Preview: JS Kabylie (ALG) vs. AS Vita Club (DRC)

DR Congo’s AS Vita Club and JS Kabylie of Algeria have a major opportunity to boost their hopes of pushing for a quarterfinal spot out of Group A of the CAF Champions League when the two teams clash in Algiers on Saturday. VClub emerged victorious two weeks ago when the teams met in Brazzaville and have ambitions of escaping Algeria with a victory after earning their first three points in Group A at their CAFCL home in the Republic of Congo. JS Kabylie, who are still in the relegation zone of Algeria’s Ligue 1 Professionnelle and have four points from three matches, want to continue finding success in their continental adventure.

VClub are coming off a 1-0 defeat in Casablanca to group leaders Wydad AC but gave a good account of themselves despite not having defender Varel Rozan and Jacques Themopole due to visa issues. The two players from the Republic of Congo will be involved on Saturday for a club who continue to improve their performances after a disappointing start. Circumstances do not favor VClub who are only involved in CAFCL matches during 2023 due to an extended delay for the return of DR Congo’s Linafoot, something head coach Raoul Shungu lamented in his pre-match comments as something that negatively affects the team’s form. Young attacker Elie Mpanzu is back from injury and the DR Congo under-23 national team member could add a much needed boost to VClub’s attack.

The defense is VClub’s greatest strength and Rozan’s return boosts a defensive unit that includes veteran Patou Ebunga at fullback and Rozan’s center back partner Guy Magema. Burkina Faso national team goalkeeper Farid Ouédraogo is the team’s most impressive performer so far in Group A play and could be the difference between a positive result and defeat for VClub. The Muscovites attack is struggling in continental play but Togolese playmaker Marouf Tchakei is a set piece specialist who can create goals in what is expected to be low scoring match.

Offensive struggles are something that JS Kabylie supporters are too familiar with this season with only one goal in their three Group A matches so far. JSK followed up their defeat to VClub two weeks ago by playing to consecutive scoreless draws against ASO Chlef and CS Constantine in Ligue 1 play and the concerns continue to grow for head coach Miloud Hamdi. While the latter result is a positive one because it was at Constantine who are in second position, Hamdi will not have center back captain Badreddine Souyad to count on due to injury.

Left back Sabri Cheraïtia also appears unlikely to play due to an injury which further weakens the greatest strength in the JSK team. 24-year-old goalkeeper Abderrahmane Medjadel will be involved and the former Paradou AC shot stopper continues to be an important player after being a member of the Algeria team that won the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup. Central midfielder Salim Boukhenchouche is the most important outfield player for JSK and brings determination to a team that is difficult to score against. At this point the most important question is who will score the goals and the pressure is growing on Dadi Mouaki to perform better after missing several good chances in CAFCL play.

Read more on both teams in the links below.

Mission sauvetage (L’Expression)
JSK : un nouveau coup dur pour les Canaris (DZair Daily)