The circumstances of Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and Algeria’s JS Kabylie are similar, before their expected confrontation in the “Maghreb derby” on Saturday in the final match of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup, which will be hosted by the “Lamitier” stadium in the Beninese capital Cotonou.
The two teams seek to return to the continental front, Raja for the first time since 2018, when they won the title for the second time in its history after 2003, and Al-Shabiba had won the title three times in a row between 2000 and 2002, and then missed the continental platforms.
Also, both of them lost their chances of winning the local championship, as the youth ranks eighth in the Algerian league, while Raja is second in the Moroccan league behind, its eternal rival Wydad, who needs a point to crown the title.
Despite the local failure, the “Green Eagle” presented an ideal journey in the second continental championship, in terms of importance after the Champions League, as it won the full mark and with a clean sheet in six matches in the first round, in a group that included Pyramids of Egypt, Nkana of Zambia and Namongo of the Congolese Democratic Republic.
Then he easily passed the South African Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals, to clash again with Pyramids, as he beat him on penalties 5-4 in the semi-finals after a negative home and away tie.
Raja enters the meeting with the intention of successfully completing the continental mission, by investing its good journey during the tournament, and at the head of this project will be Tunisian coach Saad Chebbi, who is looking forward to the first foreign title in his career, despite the team’s recent modest results in the local role, which lost the title to a great deal by losing Twice against Youssoufia Berrechid and Wydad, and tied with Hassania Agadir in the last three matches.
Al-Shabi believed that the reason for these failures is due to the focus of his players on the continental final, and added: My team members were out of coverage because of their focus on the JS Kabylie match in Benin. Their minds were completely with the Confederation Cup final, however, they appeared with good returns during some periods. He continued: I can assure you that we are all determined and determined to return to Morocco with the Confederation Cup.
Raja has a strong squad that includes experienced continental players, such as Abdelilah Al-Hafezi, goalkeeper Anas Zeniti, Mahmoud Benhalib and Elias Al-Haddad, as well as attacking duo Sofiane Rahimi and Congolese Ben Malango.
Al-Shabbi excluded, for disciplinary and technical reasons, captain Mohsen Metwally, Libyan defender Sanad Al-Werfalli, striker Ayoub Nanah and midfielder Noah El Saadawi.
JS Kabylie has always been considered one of the symbols in African tournaments, as it was crowned champion of the Champions League twice (1981 and 1990) and three consecutive times, a champion of the Federation Cup, a Super Cup and another in the Cup Winners’ Cup, but the team missed the titles for nearly two decades, and it seems a favorable opportunity to regain The Federation Cup and consolidate its record as the most winning team in the competition.
The “Canary” aspires to raise the number of its continental titles to eight, but its technical staff, led by French leaders Denis Lavigne and the players, realize that the opponent is not a “grab”.
The coach said: I am optimistic about achieving victory in the final and returning the cup to honor Algeria and all the supporters of JS Kabylie. The team will once again write glory in the continental competition, we deserve it, and we can achieve this achievement.
He added: The chances of the two teams are equal, we prepared as it should for the match, and indicated that the team does not suffer from any injuries, and said: We must play with 100% of our capabilities, and avoid falling into emotion.
The Frenchman continued: In one match, the chances are equal, I think we have defensive and offensive qualities to reach this goal, we just have to use them in the best way,” adding that he remains “optimistic and realistic at the same time.
The team’s team play is dominated by the “yellow and green” team, and its formation was completed with the return of the injured striker Zakaria Boulahia and Badr El-Din Souyad, and Lavani is counting on the distinguished goalkeeper Osama Benbout, striker Mohammed bin Shaira, midfielder Juba Okasi, and winger Reda bin Sayeh, Malik Riah and Rizki Hamroun.
GSC topped its difficult group in the quarter-finals without any loss, against Cameroon’s Coton Sport, Morocco’s defending Berkane and Zambian Nabsa Stars. In the quarter-finals, it overcame the Tunisian Sfaxien, then beat Coton Sport back and forth in the semi-finals.
The two teams met in four matches in the Champions League, the Algerian team won in one match, compared to two victories for Raja and a draw.