Africa's giants rumble in Confederation Cup

Africa's giants rumble in Confederation Cup
Harrison Afful and Esperance are resuming rivalry with Al Ahly

by Neil Greig

Friday May 15, 2015. 12:12

The first leg of the playoff round of the CAF Confederation League will take place this weekend, with 16 clubs battling for eight berths in the group stage of Africa’s second-tier continental competition.

See Pirates game preview 

The South African focus will be on Orlando Pirates, who will travel to Bamako to face Guinean side AS Kaloum at the Stade Modibo Keita in Mali on Friday evening (kick-off 17h00 local time). Kaloum will play their home leg in Mali due to the Ebola outbreak which struck Guinea and several other West African countries last year.

What Bucs coach Eric Tinkler says

Pirates have enjoyed a good run in the Confederation Cup this year, eliminating Uganda Revenue Authority and Gabon’s CF Mounana in the previous two rounds to earn their place in the last 16. They come into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw with Ajax Cape Town in their final Absa Premiership match of the season, played on Saturday afternoon.

Kaloum are ‘dropouts’ from the Champions League who lost 3-2 on aggregate to Algerian side USM Alger in the previous round of the top-tier competition. They should prove tough opponents for the Buccaneers, but playing the away game on what is almost ‘neutral’ ground and hosting the decisive second leg should give the Soweto giants an edge.

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There are some potential thrillers amongst the other eight ties, particularly the North African derbies which pit Egyptian giants Al Ahly against Tunisia’s Club Africain, while Raja Casabalanca (who knocked Kaizer Chiefs out of the Champions League earlier this year) welcome Etoile du Sahel. The meeting of Esperance and Hearts of Oak – two traditional powerhouses of North and West Africa respectively – also promises to be a classic.

CAF Confederation Cup playoff round, first leg fixtures:

AS Kaloum (Guinea) v Orlando Pirates (SA)

Al Ahly (Egypt) v Club Africain (Tunisia)

Esperance (Tunisia) v Hearts of Oak (Ghana)

CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) v ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast)

Stade Malien (Mali) v AS Vita Club (DR Congo)

Sanga Balende (DR Congo) v Zamalek (Egypt)

Raja Casablanca (Morocco) v Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)

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