Friday Feb 19, 2021. 10:00
The CAF Confederation Cup group stage line up will take shape this weekend when the return leg matches of the playoff round are held across the African continent.
A few teams have already put one foot into the group stage, such as South Africa’s Orlando Pirates (3-0 up ahead of hosting Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy), Egyptian side Pyramids FC (2-0 up ahead of hosting RC Abidjan of the Ivory Coast) and three-time Confed Cup champions CS Sfaxien of Tunisia (4-1 up ahead of travelling to Rwanda’s AS Kigali).
Other big guns such as Cameroonian contenders Coton Sport, Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel, ES Setif of Algeria and Senegalese club ASC Diaraf are also well placed, but the other ties are all very much in the balance.
None more so than Algeria’s JS Kabylie looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit at home to Stade Malien, with JSK coach Denis Lavagne optimistic about his side’s chances on home soil this Sunday.
“We would have preferred to come out of [the first leg] with the result of a draw, 1 to 1, but I think that even at 2 to 1, we keep all our chances for qualifying for the group stage,” explained Lavagne.
“We have to make sure we qualify for the second leg, we will have to score a goal and not allow an away goal for our opponents.”
Another intriguing tie is the all-Nigerian battle between Rivers United and Enyimba, with the latter holding a 1-0 lead for their trip to Port Harcourt.
“We knew before that it would not be an easy encounter against Rivers United,” said Enyimba midfielder Anthony Omaka. “This is a team that recruited some of our past players like Theophilus Afelokai in their rank, but as a team, we were determined to get the victory.”
Morocco’s TAS Casablanca will have their work cut out to come back from 0-2 down at home to Zambia’s Nkana, while a North African derby sees Tunisia’s US Monastir looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit at home to Raja Casablanca, and DR Congo’s Motema Pembe will hope to make the most of home advantage in their tie with Libya’s Al Ahly Benghazi, which is locked at 1-1.
Meanwhile, the tie between Namungo and Primeiro de Agosto is set to have its first leg played this weekend, after the scheduled match in Angola seven days prior was scrapped over a Covid-19 snafu. CAF has since ordered that both ties will be played in Tanzania.
The 15 aggregate winners in the playoff round advance to the group stage and join reigning CAFCC champions RS Berkane (who progressed automatically thanks to the withdrawal of Chad’s Gazelle).
CAF Confederation Cup weekend fixtures
Playoff round, return leg matches. Aggregate score in parenthesis
Saturday 20 February
AS Kigali v CS Sfaxien (1-4)
Sunday 21 February
NAPSA Stars v Gor Mahia (1-0)
Orlando Pirates v Jwaneng Galaxy (3-0)
Etoile du Sahel v Young Buffaloes (2-1)
ASC Diaraf v FC Platinum (1-0)
TAS Casablanca v Nkana (0-2)
Salitas v AS Bouenguidi (0-1)
Coton Sport v AS SONIDEP (1-0)
Rivers United v Enyimba (0-1)
ES Setif v Asante Kotoko (2-1)
US Monastir v Raja Casablanca (0-1)
Namungo v Primeiro de Agosto (first leg)
JS Kabylie v Stade Malien (1-2)
DC Motema Pembe v Al Ahly Benghazi (1-1)
Pyramids FC v RC Abidjan (2-0)