Debutants ready for continental bow
Six clubs will mark their debut on the continental club stage when the 7th Orange CAF Confederation Cup as it kicks off this weekend with the first leg matches of the preliminary round.
The six clubs; Petrojet (Egypt), El Amal (Sudan), Uniao Flamengo Santos (Botswana), Baraka FC (Guinea), Central Parade (Sierra Leone) and Lengthens (Zimbabwe) are among the record 52 clubs that entered for this season’s second tier continental club competition.
The debutants together with the ‘old horses’ will be battling for places at the next round of the competition dominated by winners of the annual FA Cup in their respective countries.
Holders Stade Malien have drawn a bye at the preliminary stages alongside 11 others, leaving the scramble for spots at the mercy of the 40 other clubs.
Petrojet, bankrolled by the Egyptian Petroleum company, made a huge impact in the Egyptian League last season will begin the journey in Zanzibar as guests of Miembeni on the Island around Tanzania.
The Egyptians will make up for the depth in experience with the presence of Ghana-born striker Eric Bekoe, who finished as top scorer in the same competition two seasons ago with Asante Kotoko. Having established their status as an emerging force in Egyptian football, Petrojet want to climb higher with a place on dinning table of the bigwigs, remaining their target.
At the Estadio do Costa do Sol in Maputo, nine-time Mozambican champions, Costa do Sol will play Uniao Flamingo Santos of Botswana, whose capture of the Bostwana FA Cup brought them to the fore since joining the elite division few years ago.
Sudanese debutants, El Amal, based in the northeastern town of Atbaraha will travel to Kigali to face local side Atraco, whilst Central Parade engages C.O. Bamako of Mali in Freetown.
Lengthens FC, nicknamed “Happy People” have a tricky home tie against AS Adema of Madagascar whilst Baraka FC of Guinea square off neighbours Benfica of Guinea Bissau in Bissau.
Warri Wolves, based in the oil-rich Delta State of Africa’s most populous country will make their first ever appearance in a continental championship since 2002, at Bujumbura as guests of Athletico Olympic of Burundi.
At the Stade Anjalay, Pamplemousses SC of Mauritius will battle it out with Moroka Swallows of South Africa, with Caps United of Zimbabwe facing Mbabane Highlanders of Swaziland in all COSAFA affairs.
Libya’s El Tersana will lock horns with former Moroccan champions, C.R. Belouizdad, Jaraaf of Senegal versus FUS of Morocco and El Dragon of Equatorial Guinea against AC Leopards of Congo.
AFC Leopards of Kenya will face Banks FC of Ethiopia in Nairobi.
Others to have also drawn a bye at the first hurdle include Premeiro de Agosto, Coton Sport, Haras El Hodoud, FC 105, AS FAR, Stade Malien, Enyimba, ASV Club, Simba, Etoile du Sahel, CS Sfaxien, Zesco United.
The second leg matches is scheduled for the weekend of February 26 to February 28.
Caps United (Zimbabwe) vs. Mbabane Highlanders (Swaziland)
Pamplemousses (Mauritius) vs. Moroka Swallows (South Africa)
Athletico Olympic (Burundi) vs. Warri Wolves (Nigeria)
El Tersana (Libya) vs. C.R. Belouizdad (Algeria)
Atraco (Rwanda) vs. El Amal (Sudan)
Costa do Sol (Mozambique) vs. Uniao Flamingo Santos (Botswana)
Miembeni (Zanzibar) vs. Petrojet (Egypt)
SC Villa (Uganda) vs. El Khartoum (Sudan)
Sewe San Pedro (Cote d’Ivoire) vs. US Forces Armees (Burkina Faso)
Benfica (Guinea-Bissau) vs. Baraka de Conakry (Guinea)
Jaraaf (Senegal) vs. FUS (Morocco)
Central Parade FC (Sierra Leone) vs. C.O. Bamako (Mali)
El Dragon (Equatorial Guinea) vs. AC Leopards (Congo)
AFC Leopards (Kenya) vs. Banks (Ethiopia)
Lengthens FC (Zimbabwe) vs. AS Adema (Madagascar)
AS FAN (Niger) vs. Issia Wazi (Cote D’ivoire)