CAF Champions League Enters First Leg Into Money Spinning Stage

CAF Champions League Enters First Leg Into Money Spinning Stage

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

 

The revamped CAF Champions League enters crucial stage as clubs struggle to get into the lucrative group stage. Two Nigerian clubs, Enugu Rangers and Rivers United are up against vast experienced oppositions.

In Cairo, Enugu Rangers will be facing Zamalek of Egypt on Sunday. Except for the then IICC Shooting Stars overcoming Zamalek after penalty shootout in the then African Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1976, no Nigerian club has had positive results in confrontation with Zamalek.

On two occasions, Zamalek overcame Shooting Stars to become continental champions in 1984 and 1996. Zamalek had gone ahead to win the title three more times to become five-time African champions and two times runners up.

Shooting Stars, Super Stores, Kwara United, Enyimba all have fell by the way side in epic confrontation with Zamalek.

It is the spate of such bad results that continental returnee, Enugu Rangers will be attempting to halt when they meet the Cairo side on Sunday.

Rivers United, debuting in the continent. carry the same burden as they face Sudan’s El Merrikh who are on their 21st appearance in Africa’s lead clubs’ competition.

Rivers will be hoping to replicate the potency in attack they exhibited against Real Bamako in the preliminary round and obtain a good result ahead of the return leg.

In other places, four most successful clubs in African competitions enter the 2017 CAF Champions League this weekend expecting to build first-leg leads at home in last-32 ties.

Record eight-time title winners Ahly of Egypt only managed a 1-0 win over South African league leaders Wits, who are playing in the elite African competition for the first time.

Ahly last won the Champions League in 2013, and six of the Egypt squad that finished Africa Cup of Nations runners-up last month came from the Cairo “Red Devils”.

 

TP Mazembe of the DR Congo, second behind Ahly with five successes, meet unimpressive preliminary round winners CAPS United of Zimbabwe.

Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, the only club to win all five current and past CAF competitions, also boast nine combined titles ahead of a clash with AS Tanda of the Cote d’Ivoire.

The last-32 line-up includes eight winners of the Champions League, including title-holders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, who host Kampala Capital City Authority of Uganda.

Esperance of Tunisia, V Club of DR Congo and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco complete the line-up of clubs who lifted the richest and most prized African trophy.

Another five challengers, Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, FUS Rabat of Morocco, Horoya of Guinea, Al Merrikh of Sudan and Enugu, have won other CAF titles.

 

All the fixtures

Friday 10 March 

  • Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 2-0 Kampala CCA (Uganda)

Saturday 11 March 

  • Young Africans (Tanzania) 1-1 Zanaco FC (Zambia)
  • 17:00 Wydad de Casablanca (Morocco) vs. Mounana (Gabon)

18:30 Ahly (Egypt) vs. Bidvest Wits (South Africa)

Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia) 3-1 Horoya (Guinea)

  • 21:30 USM Alger (Algeria) vs. RC Kadiogo (Burkina Faso)

 

Sunday 12 March 

  • Al Ahli Tripoli (Libya) vs. FUS Rabat (Morocco)
  • Ferroviario Beira (Mozambique) vs. Barrack Young Controllers (Liberia)
  • TP Mazembe Englebert (DR. Congo) vs. CAPS United FC (Zimbabwe)
  • Cotonsport (Cameroon) vs. CNaPS Sport (Madagascar)
  • Leopards de Dolisie (Congo) vs. Kedus Giorgis (Ethiopia)
  • Rivers United FC (Nigeria) vs. Al Merrikh (Sudan)
  • Zamalek (Egypt) vs. Enugu Rangers (Nigeria)
  • Gambia Ports Authority (Gambia) vs. AS Vita Club (DR Congo)
  • Al Hilal Omdurman (Sudan) vs. AS Port-Louis 2000 (Mauritius)
  • Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) vs. AS Tanda (ICote d’Ivoire)

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