Egypt will have a completely new representative in the elite African club championship this term in debutants Misr Makkassa, who travel to Dakar this weekend as guests of Senegal champions, Generation Foot, in the first leg clash of the preliminary round.
Based in Fayoum, about 100-kilometers south of the capital Cairo, Makkassa were the surprise packets of the Egyptian Premier League last season when they finished second to eventual winner, Al Ahly. Thus they guaranteed their first ever CAF Champions League appearance.
Previously, Makkassa tasted continental action few years ago when they took part in the 2016 CAF Confederation Cup. After a successful start that saw them beat the likes of Ethiopia Defence Force, DR Congo's Don Bosco and Algeria's CS Constantine, they were eliminated at the play-off round after losing to Libya's Ahly Tripoli.
Their debut appearance in the premier continental club championship comes in the middle of some difficult circumstances, though. Makkassa are currently 13th on the 18-club Egyptian Premier League, having amassed just 25 points from 22 games. They also suffered elimination in the Egyptian Cup at the 1/8th round. To make matters worse, the team lost some of their key players before their continental campaign begins. Playmaker Hussein El Shahat joined UAE side Al Ain last month, while Ghanaian striker Nana Poku and winger Emad Fathy moved to Cairo giants Zamalek.
Talismanic Ghanaian striker John Antwi is injured, while defenders Ahmed Samy and Mohamed Touny missed the trip to Senegal for administrative reasons.
Head Coach, Emad Suleiman will be banking on the efforts of Malagasy playmaker Paulin Voavy and Burkinabe winger Eric Traore to return from Dakar unscathed.
"I have told my players to forget about the domestic competition and focus on the continental mission ahead," the Makkassa coach told CAFOnline.com.
"Winning and qualifying to the next round will be a great reply to our critics this season. I told my players they are better than their opponents. Our target is to get a positive result away that makes the return leg a much easier mission", he concluded.
The return leg is scheduled for the Cairo International Stadium on 21 February, with the aggregate winner facing either Niger's AS FAN or Horoya of Guinea at the 1/16th round.
Meanwhile holders Wydad Athletic Club of Motrocco, Al Ahly (Egypt), Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) and TP Mazembe (DR Congo) have drawn a bye at the prelims
Saturday, 10 February 2018
CNaPs Sport (Madagascar) vs KCCA (Uganda)
Zanaco (Zambia) vs Armed Forces (Gambia)
Stade Malien (Mali) vs Williamsville AC (Cote d'Ivoire)
RC Kadiogo (Burkina Faso) vs Mounana (Gabon)
AS FAN (Niger) vs Horoya (Guinea)
Generation Foot (Senegal) vs Makkassa (Egypt)
Young Africans (Tanzania) vs Saint Louis (Seychelles)
Township Rollers (Botswana) vs El Merreikh (Sudan)
Gor Mahia (Kenya) vs Leones Vegatarianos (Equatorial Guinea)
Concorde (Mauritania) vs Esperance (Tunisia)
AC Leopards (Congo) vs AS Port (Togo)
JKU (Zanzibar) vs Zesco (Zambia)
Difaa El Jadida (Morocco) vs Benfica (Guinea Bissau)
Bidvest (South Africa) vs Pamplemousses (Mauritius)
Rayon Sports (Rwanda) vs Lydia Academic (Burundi)
Sunday, 11 February 2018
Saint George (Ethiopia) vs Al Salam Wau (South Sudan)
Bantu (Lesotho) vs Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)
El Tahadi (Libya) vs Aduana (Ghana)
ES Setif (Algeria) vs Olympic de Bangui (Central African Republic)
AS Real (Mali) vs MFM (Nigeria)
AS Otoho (Congo) vs MC Alger (Algeria)
Plateau United (Nigeria) vs Eding Sport (Cameroon)
LISCR (Liberia) vs El Hilal (Sudan)
Buffles (Benin) vs ASEC Mimosas (Cote d'Ivoire)
Ngaya (Comoros) vs UD Songo (Mozambique)
AS Vita (DR Congo) vs Be Forward (Malawi)
Primeiro de Agosto (Angola) vs FC Platinum (Zimbabwe)