The Confederation of African Football has appointed a new set of referees for Sunday’s CAF Champions League final, first leg match between Nigeria’s Heartland FC and TP Mazembe of Democratic Republic of Congo at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.
Heartland’s chairman, Ignatius Okeahialam (right)
Earlier, the continental governing body had picked South African Jerome Damon to be the centre referee, with Cameroonian Evariste Mekounde as Assistant Referee 1 and Damon’s compatriots Enock Molefe and Abdul Basit Ebrahim as Assistant Referee 2 and Reserve Referee respectively.
However, CAF on Tuesday announced that Egyptian Abdel Fatah Essam will now be centre referee, while his compatriots Hassan Sherif, Mohamed Waleed and Farouk Mohamed will be Assistant Referee 1, Assistant Referee 2 and Reserve Referee respectively.
But Togolese Gnofame Zoumarou is retained as the Match Commissioner while Djibril Traore of Mali will be General Coordinator.
Sunday’s match in Owerri will be a tough test of character for both teams, who cancelled themselves out in both legs during the group phase.
Heartland fell 0-2 to TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, while the Nigerian flag –bearers won the second game between both teams on Owerri by the same margin.
Tout Puissant Englebert Lubumbashi, fore –runner of TP Mazembe, won the then African Champions Cup successively in 1967 and 1968, and the feat was not repeated until Nigeria’s Enyimba won two times in a row in 2003 and 2004.
Mazembe even came close to winning a third title on the trot in 1970, only to lose 1-2 on home soil to Ghana’s Asante Kotoko after both teams finished 1-1 in the first leg of the final in Kumasi.
CAF has also appointed Algerian referee Mohamed Benouza to be centre referee of the return leg match, which will take place at the Stade de La Kenya in Lubumbashi on Saturday, November 7.
Egyptian Abdel Naby Nasser will be Assistant Referee 1, with Mamar Chabane as Assistant Referee 2 and Mohamed Benaissa as Reserve Referee. Egyptian Mazen Marzouk will be General Coordinator, with the Match Commissioner to be appointed on match day.