Monday Dec 21, 2020. 10:00
African club football’s heavyweights will be on deck this midweek as the CAF Champions League sees first round, first-leg matches played across the continent on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 December 2020.
Ten teams received byes into this phase of the competition, including reigning champions Al Ahly, who will begin the defence of the title they claimed less than a month ago with a trip to Niger’s AS SONIDEP on Wednesday.
Other heavyweights to watch out for include runners-up Zamalek, who are away to Gazelle in Chad, DR Congo’s TP Mazembe for their clash against Gabonese side Bouenguidi, and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, who have a regional derby against Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy.
One of the top clashes sees Al Merrikh of Sudan hosting Nigeria’s Enyimba, with coach of the latter, Fatai Osho, calling on his side to be more ruthless than they were against Rahimo in the preliminary round.
The People’s Elephant won 2-1 on aggregate, but Osho argues that was not a true reflection of their dominance: “You’ve got to be deadly. In Burkina Faso also we created a lot of chances but couldn’t covert them. But I think we can still get better in front of goal. That was our greatest undoing. We were just too wasteful.
“We need to improve on converting our chances. If you look at the games [against Rahimo], we had a lot of chances to score more goals but we did not take those chances. We are playing against a very big team, Al Merrikh, and for us to scale through against such a team we have to convert our chances.”
Other major clashes which could go either way include the meeting of Stade Malien and Wydad Casablanca, a North African derby between Al Ahly Benghazi and Esperance de Tunis, Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko taking on Al Hilal and a West African derby between Ivorian club RC Abidjan and Guinea powerhouses Horoya.
The return matches are scheduled for 5-6 January 2021. The 16 aggregate winners advance into the group phase, while the losers ‘drop’ into the playoff round of the CAF Confederation Cup.
CAF Champions League fixtures, 22-23 December 2020
First round, first-leg matches
Tuesday 22 December
Young Buffaloes v AS Vita
Jwaneng Galaxy v Mamelodi Sundowns
Teungueth v Raja Casablanca
Wednesday 23 December
Stade Malien v Wydad Casablanca
RC Abidjan v Horoya AC
AS SONIDEP v Al Ahly
Al Ahly Benghazi v Esperance de Tunis
Gazelle v Zamalek
AS Bouenguidi v TP Mazembe
Kaizer Chiefs v Primeiro de Agosto
Al Merrikh v Enyimba
Asante Kotoko v Al Hilal
Nkana v Petro de Luanda
FC Platinum v Simba SCCR Belouizdad v Gor Mahia