Friday Sep 10, 2021. 11:00
The 2021-22 editions of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup get underway this weekend, with first-leg matches in the preliminary rounds for each competition played across the continent from Friday 10 to Sunday 12 September.
While the big guns in each competition – Wydad Casablanca, Raja Casablanca, Horoya, Al Ahly, Esperance, Zamalek, Etoile du Sahel, Mamelodi Sundowns and Simba for the CAFCL; Saoura, Pyramids, Al Masry, Sfaxien, Enyimba, RS Berkane, JS Kabylie, Gor Mahia, Vita Club, Motema Pembe, Primeiro de Agosto, Cotonsport and Orlando Pirates for the CAFCC – have been granted a bye for this stage, there will still be some mouthwatering clashes on offer.
The pick of the ties in the Champions League both involve Nigerian clubs, with Rivers United coming up against Tanzanian giants Young Africans, and Akwa United facing a stiff test against Algeria’s CR Belouizdad.
“In the continent, you need to prepare, in the continent you need to know the climate you are going into, you have to find out if you would be playing on grass or artificial turf,” explained Akwa chairman Paul Bassey to Vanguard.
“In the continent, the flight arrangements are very key; you must go to Europe before you come back to Tunisia. You need the funds to be able to secure seats on a plane in a commercial flight. In a continent where North African clubs have their own planes or charter flights, there are a lot of obstacles along the line.”
Elsewhere, the CAFCL will see the debut of South Africa’s AmaZulu, who were surprise runners-up in the domestic league last season, but are thrilled to be playing in African club competition for the first time, which will start with a home game against Malawi’s Nyasa Big Bullets.
“It is a big deal for us, and we want to make the supporters happy by going as far as we can in the competition,” said midfielder Hendrick Ekstein.
Other ties to watch out for include Senegal’s Teungueth facing Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas; Fasil Kenema of Ethiopia pitting their skills against Sudanese heavyweights Al Hilal; and Uganda’s Express looking to upset Hilal’s arch rivals, Al Merrikh.
In the Confederation Cup, the biggest names in action include Morocco’s FAR Rabat, who face Buffles of Benin; Ivory Coast’s San Pedro take on Burkina Faso’s ASFA; and Tanzania Azam will back themselves to overcome Horseed of Somalia.
CAF Champions League weekend preliminary round fixtures
First leg matches
LPRC Oilers v ASKO Kara
AS SONABEL v Stade Malien
USGN v Le Messager Ngozi
KMKM v Al Ittihad Tripoli
Arta-Solar7 v Tusker
Mogadishu City v APR
AS Bouenguidi v AS Maniema Union
AmaZulu v Nyasa Big Bullets
Jwaneng Galaxy v DFC 8eme
Young Africans v Rivers United
Fasil Kenema v Al Hilal
Teungueth v ASEC Mimosas
Akwa United v CR Belouizdad
UD Songo v AS Otoho
Fovu de Baham v Petro de Luanda
ESAE v FC Nouadhibou
Fortune v ES Setif
Sagrada Esperanca v FC Platinum
Express v Al Merrikh
Akonangui v Zanaco
(Hearts of Oak v CI Kamsar – Reduced to one leg in Ghana on 19 September)*
CAF Confederation Cup weekend preliminary round fixtures
First leg matches
Olympique de Missiri v AS Kigali
Bumamuru v Diables Noirs
Dikhil v Biashara United
Red Arrows v Young Buffaloes
Atlabara v Al Ahly Merowe
Futuro Kings v Marumo Gallants
Azam v Horseed
Binga v MC Breweries
URA v Ethiopia Bunna
CFAA v Kabwe Warriors
Hay Al Wadi v Al Ahly Tripoli
Mangasport v Orapa United
ASFA v San Pedro
Ben Guerdane v Police
Kara v Concorde
Mafunzo v Interclube
Diambars v Wakirya – Reduced to one leg in Senegal on 12 September*
FAR Rabat v Buffles
(Bayelsa United v Ashanti Golden Boys – Reduced to one leg in Nigeria on 19 September)*
*Due to the recent coup d’etat in Guinea