Friday Feb 12, 2021. 10:00
Continental club football will return on the African continent this weekend.
The opening round of the 2020-21 Caf Champions League group stage campaign will kick-off on Friday evening with last season’s runners-up Zamalek at home to MC Alger while AS Vita will welcome Tanzanian giants Simba in Kinshasa.
Florent Ibenge, who was recently linked with the Simba job, will be on the Black Dolphins’ bench and eager to lead his team off to the perfect start.
A further four group stage matches will follow on Saturday but the much-anticipated clash between Kaizer Chiefs and Wydad Casablanca will not take place, following the South African club’s failure to obtain visa entry into Morocco due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic — duly forcing the postponement of the match.
Five-time champions TP Mazembe will be at home to CR Belouizdad in Group B action while 2016 champions Mamelodi Sundowns will host Al-Hilal Omdurman.
Little-known Senegalese outfit Teungueth will start their maiden group stage journey away to four-time champions Espérance de Tunis, after beating Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca in the qualifying round.
Defending champions Al Ahly will only be in action next week following their return from the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar where they managed a third-place finish. The Red Devils claimed a record-extending ninth continental crown with victory over Egyptian rivals Zamalek in last year’s final.
There is a full list of Caf Confederation Cup play-off round first-leg fixtures scheduled for Sunday with no fewer than 15 matches scattered across the African continent.
Defending champions RS Berkane will be joined by the 15 winners of the play-off matches in the group stages of this season’s competition. Berkane defeated Pyramids FC in last year’s final.
As always there is a strong Moroccan contingent with Berkane’s local rivals Raja Casablanca and TAS Casablanca both hoping to progress while record three-time champions CS Sfaxien will aim to navigate their way past the challenge of AS Kigali. Tunisian rivals Etoile du Sahel, who are two-time winners, will take on Young Buffaloes from eSwatini while Orlando Pirates will battle Jwaneng Galaxy of Botswana for a place in the group stages.
Other notable clubs involved in play-off action on Sunday include last season’s runners-up Pyramids, Stade Malien, Gor Mahia, Asante Kotoko, Enyimba, Nkana, Coton Sport and ES Setif.