Big guns enter the fray in CAF club competitions

Big guns enter the fray in CAF club competitions
Al Ahly players

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Oct 15, 2021. 12:00

The ‘big guns’ of African club competition will enter the fray as the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup both stage the first leg matches of their second qualifying round this weekend.

The heavyweights which received a ‘bye’ in the previous round now get added into the mix, which means the likes of reigning African champions Al Ahly, Wydad Casablanca, Mamelodi Sundowns and Zamalek enter the CAFCL, while the CAFCC has its ranks boosted by RS Berkane, Enyimba and AS Vita Club amongst others.

In the Champions League, two of the top ties are DR Congo v South Africa battles, as TP Mazembe and AS Maniema Union face AmaZulu and Sundowns respectively. The Ravens will back themselves to get the better of tournament debutants Usuthu, while Union will need to up their game for the Brazilians, who have been the dominant force in South African football and are chasing a seventh successive appearance in the group stage.

“It’s huge to have both teams in the Champions League, it just sets the tone for the type of club we have. We strive for greatness not only locally but internationally,” said ‘Downs attacker Haashim Domingo, also referencing the Women’s CAFCL.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, tournament kings Al Ahly open their campaign with a trip to Niger’s USGN; Ghana’s Hearts of Oak continue their return to the top table with a home clash against Wydad; and Nigeria’s representative, Rivers United, will welcome Al Hilal to Port Harcourt as they look to become the first club from the West African country to reach the group stage since Enyimba in 2016.

Former Champions League winner Victor Ezeji says Rivers must make the most of home advantage: “If they are able to beat Al-Hilal here by three, four goals, at least it’s going to be difficult for them to concede high number of goals because defensively they [Rivers United] are very good,” he explained.

“It’s just for them to put the ball into the net and that is the only way they can progress. If they fail to do that in the first leg then it is going to be a very difficult run.”

In the Confederation Cup, Enyimba face a tough trip to Senegal’s Diambars, while Bayelsa United will welcome Tunisia’s potent CS Sfaxien.

The CAFCC also features a couple of potentially thrilling North African derbies – US Ben Guerdane v RS Berkane and FAR Rabat v JS Kabylie – as well as more SA v DRC/Congo clashes, with Marumo Gallants v AS Vita (DRC) and Diables Noirs (Congo) v Orlando Pirates.

The return leg matches for both competitions will be played next weekend, 22-24 October. The 16 aggregate winners in the Champions League advance to the group phase of that competition; the 16 losers join the 16 winners from the Confederation Cup in a playoff round later this year, the winners of which  advance into the group stage of that competition.

CAF Champions League weekend fixtures

Second qualifying round, first leg, times CAT

Friday 15 October

17:00: AmaZulu v TP Mazembe

Saturday 16 October

14:00: Tusker v Zamalek

15:00: APR v Etoile du Sahel

16:00: Sagrada Esperanca v Royal Leopards

17:00: ASEC Mimosas v CR Belouizdad

17:30: USGN v Al Ahly

19:00: Stade Malien v Horoya AC

19:00: Al Merrikh v Zanaco

Sunday 17 October

15:00: Jwaneng Galaxy v Simba SC

16:00: AS Maniema Union v Mamelodi Sundowns

16:00: FC Nouadhibou v ES Setif

16:30: AS Otoho v Petro de Luanda

17:00: LPRC Oilers v Raja Casablanca

17:00: Rivers United v Al Hilal

17:00: Hearts of Oak v Wydad Casablanca

19:00: Al Ittihad Tripoli v Esperance de Tunis

CAF Confederation Cup weekend fixtures

Second qualifying round, first leg, times CAT

Friday 15 October

14:00: Biashara United v Al Ahli Tripoli

16:30: Diables Noirs v Orlando Pirates

18:00: Marumo Gallants v AS Vita Club

18:30: Binga v ASFA Yennenga

19:00: Al Ahly Merowe v Gor Mahia

Saturday 16 October

14:00: FC Azam v FC Pyramids

15:00: Orapa United v Cotonsport

15:00: URA v Al Masry

15:00: Red Arrows v Primeiro de Agosto

17:30: US Ben Guerdane v RS Berkane

18:00: Concorde v Saoura

19:00: Diambars v Enyimba

20:00: FAR Rabat v JS Kabylie

Sunday 17 October

15:00: CFFA v Interclube

15:00: AS Kigali v Motemba Pembe

16:00: Bayelsa United v CS Sfaxien

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