16 February 2013

Africa: 2013 Orange CAF Champions League Campaign Gets Underway

This weekend sees the start of the 3013 Orange CAF Champions League competition with holders Al Ahly of Egypt on a bye and waiting to start the defence of their title away to the winners of a preliminary tie between Saint Michel United of Seychelles or Tusker of Kenya. It all starts this weekend with preliminary round first legs matches across the continent.

Zamalek of Egypt, Vita of DR Congo, Orlando Pirates of South Africa, Asante Kotoko of Ghana and Union Douala of Cameroon feature in the preliminary round and TP Mazembe of DRC, Esperance of Tunisia and Setif of Algeria got byes.

A powerful 56-club field chasing a $1.5 million first prize also includes five former winners of other CAF titles in Bizertin of Tunisia, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, FUS Rabat of Morocco, Horoya of Guinea and Al Merreikh of Sudan.

Ghanaian champions Asante Kotoko make a return to Africa after a four-year absence with a preliminary round first leg qualifier against Equatoguinean side Sony ela Nguema.The Porcupine Warriors' last appearance in Africa came in a round of 32 elimination against Moroccan side Ittihad Khemisset. Kotoko's qualification to play in the CAF Champions League comes on the back of their league title triumph in the 2011/12 season.

South Africa's Orlando Pirates will launch their claim to renew the glory days of South African football on Saturday when they host Comoros side Djabal at Orlando Stadium in the night game scheduled to kick -off at 8:15pm.

Swaziland's Mbabane Swallows, are up against Zambia's Zanaco in Lusaka on Saturday. Swallows played Africa Cup of Nations finalist, Burkina Faso, during the latter's preparations for AFCON and the 'Birds' feel they are better placed to take on Africa , "We couldn't have faced Zanaco FC at a better time than now. The confidence amongst the players is high. If you can stand your own against a team as good as Burkina Faso then you feel confident to take on any side," head coach, Nyanga Hlophe said.

The Zimbabwean champions Dynamos will host Lesotho's Correctional Services on Sunday in Harare. Lesotho coach Mosholu Mokhotho told media upon arrival in Harare that his charges were eager to take the game to their hosts and hopefully take a reasonably pleasing result back to Maseru in a fortnight's time.

Zamalek, the second most successful Champions League club after Cairo rivals Ahly with five titles, face Gazelle of Chad, Vita play Dynamic of Togo, Kotoko tackle Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and Douala confront LISCR of Liberia.

Setif, hoping to bring the trophy back to Algeria after a 23-year absence, begin against the winners of a tie between ASPAC of Benin and ASFA Yennenga of Burkina Faso.

The three qualifying rounds begin on February 15 and end on May 5 with the eight second round winners advancing to the group phase and the losers to the play-offs in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.

The weekend's fixtures are as following:

Preliminary round

15,16,17/02/2013

Simba SC

vs

Clube Rec.Libolo

15,16,17/02/2013

JSM Bejaïa

vs

Olympic FC

15,16,17/02/2013

Rangers

vs

Sporting Do.Principe

15,16,17/02/2013

Orlando Pirates

vs

Djabal FC

15,16,17/02/2013

Maxaquene

vs

Mochudi C.Chiefs

15,16,17/02/2013

APR

vs

Vital'O

15,16,17/02/2013

Zanaco

vs

Mbabane Swallows

15,16,17/02/2013

St. Michel United

vs

Tusker

15,16,17/02/2013

Dynamos

vs

L.S.C

15,16,17/02/2013

C.A.B

vs

Ittihad

15,16,17/02/2013

Jamhuri

vs

Saint George

15,16,17/02/2013

AS Vita Club

vs

Dynamic

15,16,17/02/2013

Zamalek

vs

Gazelle FC

15,16,17/02/2013

Asante Kotoko

vs

Sony de Ela Nguema

15,16,17/02/2013

1er Agosto

vs

AS Adema

15,16,17/02/2013

Coton Sport

vs

U.R.A

15,16,17/02/2013

M.A.T

vs

Casa Sport

15,16,17/02/2013

FUS

vs

Real De Banjul

15,16,17/02/2013

Union Douala

vs

LISCR

15,16,17/02/2013

Horoya

vs

Sewe Sport

15,16,17/02/2013

A.F.A.D

vs

Diamond Stars

15,16,17/02/2013

Kano Pillars

vs

Olympique Bangui

15,16,17/02/2013

AC Leopards

vs

CF Mounana

15,16,17/02/2013

A.S.P.A.C.FC

vs

A.S.F.Y

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