Al-Zamalek player Mostafa Fathi (R) in action against Enugu Rangers player Charles Henlong (L) during African Champions League match
Monday Mar 20, 2017. 12:30
West African football will be severely underrepresented in the new-look 16-team group stage of the CAF Champions League.
The region, which is a traditional powerhouse of African football, has just one representative in the last 16: Cameroon’s Coton Sport, who overcame Madagascar side CNaPS 2-1 on aggregate.
The weekend’s first round, second leg action saw teams from Nigeria (Rivers United, Enugu Rangers), Ivory Coast (AS Tanda), Burkina Faso (Rail Club), Guinea (Horoya), Gabon (CF Mounana), Liberia (Barrack Young Controllers), and Gambia (Ports Authority) all drop out.
A predominance of North African teams is never a surprise for CAF club competitions and this year’s Champions League is no exception, with no less than seven clubs hailing from the region: Al Ahly, Zamalek (both Egypt), Etoile Sahel, Esperance (both Tunisia), USM Alger (Algeria), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) and Al Ahly Tripoli (Libya).
Southern Africa is also fairly well represented, with title holders Mamelodi Sundowns setting an example which has been followed by Zambia’s Zanaco, Mozambican side Ferroviario Beira and Zimbabwe’s CAPS United, who claimed a major scalp in the previous round by eliminating TP Mazembe.
Mazembe’s great rivals in the DR Congo, AS Vita, are the only Central African representatives, while East Africa has three teams in the final 16: Sudanese giants Al Merrikh and Al Hilal, as well as Ethiopia’s Saint George.
The group stage, which will be played from May to July, will feature four groups of four, with the top two teams in each advancing into the quarterfinals.