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 By Mark Gleeson

Zesco United look to upset the odds in African Champions League semifinals

Zesco United have defied the odds to reach the semifinals of the African Champions League.

The only previous time two southern African clubs battled each other for a place in the African Champions League final, South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns edged Angola's Petro Atletico after a penalty shootout back in 2001.

The region might boast the continent's biggest economy but its clubs are some distance off the footballing achievements of their northern and western cousins.

It is the Arabic-speaking countries of the north that are the real powerhouse of the club game, and this is reflected again...

 By Mark Gleeson

South Africa's PSL season begins amid concern at the state of the game

Mamelodi Sundowns fans have had plenty to cheer recently but PSL attendances are low overall.

South Africa's Premier Soccer League boasts a place among the top television markets in world football, yet faces some real dilemmas as the new season gets underway on Tuesday.

Rapidly declining attendances go hand-in-hand with a general pessimism about the state of the domestic game, especially after a lack of success for the country's national team. The 2010 World Cup is now but a distant memory as clubs line up for a new campaign, albeit using all of the wondrous stadia infrastructure left in...

 By Mark Gleeson

Egypt struggling to complete on the international and domestic stage

Hector Cuper has taken over theĀ Egypt national team.

The spotlight of success around Egyptian football used to be bright, but now the light is a lot dimmer and flickers on and off as the country comes to grips with a new dispensation.

Egypt used to be at the cusp of the African game; now while they are still up among the top contenders, failure is becoming alarmingly more regular.

Al Ahly slipped disappointingly out of the CAF Champions League race at the weekend in the latest setback for the country who only months ago were celebrating a renaissance...

 By Mark Gleeson

Egypt powerhouse Al Ahly revive their African Champions League campaign

Al Ahly's hopes of African Champions League progression remain high with two matches to go.

On the two previous occasions that Al Ahly of Egypt started the group competition in the African Champions League with successive defeats, they failed to advance to the semifinals.

But this year the Egyptian giants have revived their campaign and turned around their fortunes against difficult odds.

With two matches left to go in Group A, the Cairo club must win them both but their chances are now infinitely better than just weeks ago, after they had picked up just a single point from their opening...

 By Mark Gleeson

African nations covet World Cup success, but Olympic glory still a goal

The ESPN FC boys react to Brazil's surprising 0-0 draw with South Africa.
Nigeria's entertaining win over Japan was another big result for an African nation at the Olympics.

There have already been two positive results for Africa at the Olympic men's football tournament in Brazil -- South Africa's 0-0 draw against the hosts and Nigeria's 5-4 win over Japan -- as the continent again holds out hope for a medal at an event for which there is much empathy and affection. Brazil might have its own particular obsession with the gold medal, given that it is the one major prize that still eludes the nation, but Africa might be unique in its unbridled enthusiasm for the event,...

 By Mark Gleeson

Martin Jol's Al Ahly with backs against the wall in CAF Champions League

Martin Jol with Al Ahly
Martin Jol has no margin for error if his Al Ahly side are to reach the CAF Champions League semifinals.

For the first time ever, two managers who have both worked in the top flight of English football will go head-to-head against each other in the CAF Champions League.

Wydad Casablanca's John Toshack, the former manager of Wales and Real Madrid who also took Swansea from the fourth division to the first division in four seasons in the early 1980's, is up against Al Ahly's Martin Jol, the former Tottenham and Fulham boss, for the second time in 10 days, as both seek to add the continent's top club...