Friday Nov 26, 2021. 12:00
The 2021-22 edition of the CAF Confederation Cup will see the playoff round open with first-leg matches across the continent this Sunday, 28 November, as 32 clubs battle to reach the continental tournament’s group stage.
The action gets underway in the early afternoon in Kenya, as Tusker welcome three-time CAFCC champions CS Sfaxien of Tunisia. Another Kenyan club in action is Gor Mahia, who will be away to Congo’s AS Otoho, but former Harambee Stars international Charles Okwemba reckons it will be difficult for the East African sides to progress due to a lack of domestic action.
When going for these assignments, you need to be at your best, and that means you have to be in a competitive mood,” Okwemba told Goal.
“We have two teams here, Gor Mahia and Tusker, they have not played competitive matches for quite a while. The players might need a few minutes to set themselves up, and by the time they settle they might be trailing.
“Continental matches need good preparations; too bad it has not happened because of the situation. It might turn out to be a tough outing for the teams, but again, you cannot write them off, they might surprise us.”
Elsewhere, Zambian side Red Arrows will be away to Tanzania’s Simba SC, with the latter club featuring a Chipolopolo international in the shape of Rally Bwalya who cannot wait to face a side from his home country.
“I think we need to make amends after the mistakes we made in the CAF Champions League and qualify to the CAF Confederation Cup group stage,” Bwalya said.
“It won’t be easy playing Red Arrows and they didn’t get to this stage by luck but they have worked hard and faced tough teams to reach this point.”
The field of 32 teams features no less than six former champions of Africa. DR Congo’s TP Mazembe will come up against South African rookies Marumo Gallants, whose compatriots Orlando Pirates will be away in Liberia against LPRC Oilers.
ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast welcome Interclube of Angola; Algeria’s JS Kabylie tackle Eswatini’s Royal Leopards away; Nigeria’s Enyimba will be away to Libya’s Al Ittihad Tripoli; and Ghanaian champions Hearts of Oak will welcome Algerian club JS Saoura to Accra.
Hearts have had a tough opening to their domestic campaign and need the boost a place in the group stage of the Confederation Cup would give them, but renowned coach and pundit Ebenezer Sefah says their players have become arrogant in the wake of last season’s success.
“They are not playing as a team and it is shocking,” said Sefah, as quoted by Ghana Web.
He added, “I think they are becoming arrogant as well. Emmanuel Nettey, especially was indisciplined throughout the game [2-0 loss to AshantiGold last weekend] and I don’t understand why [coach] Samuel Boadu kept him in the game. This is not the mindset and approach to defending a league title and if the players don’t improve, then it is going to get worse for the club.”
The return leg matches are scheduled for Sunday 5 December. The 16 aggregate winners will advance into the CAFCC group stage.
CAF Confederation Cup weekend fixtures
Times CAT. Playoff round, first leg
Sunday 28 November
14:00: Tusker v CS Sfaxien
15:00: Simba SC v Red Arrows
15:00: Zanaco v Binga
15:00: APR v RS Berkane
15:00: Royal Leopards v JS Kabylie
16:00: TP Mazembe v Marumo Gallants
16:30: AS Otoho v Gor Mahia
17:00: AS Maniema Union v Pyramids
17:00: Hearts of Oak v JS Saoura
17:00: Rivers United v Al Masry
17:30: USGN v DC Motema Pembe
18:00: FC Nouadhibou v Cotonsport
18:00: ASEC Mimosas v Interclube
18:00: LPRC Oilers v Orlando Pirates
18:00: Stade Malien v Al Ahly Tripoli
20:00: Al Ittihad Tripoli v Enyimba