27 March 2018

Ethiopia/Congo-Brazzaville: As Wolayita Dicha Face Young Africans, St. George Meet Cara Brazzaville for the Confederation Cup Play-Offs

The Ethiopian CAF Confederation Cup representatives Wolayita Dicha will face Tanzanian Young Africans side while the Ethiopian CAF Champions League representatives Saint George will take on Cara Brazzaville of Congo in the Confederation Cup play-offs.

This is the second chance to reach the group stage in the continental big event for St. George after they were knocked out by the Uganda's Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) from the CAF champions League. The CAF regulation allows the second chance for clubs who face an early exit from the Champion's League to compete in the Confederation Cup play-offs.

CAF held draws for the Confederation Cup play-offs on Wednesday at its quarter in Cairo.

The Ethiopian side Wolayita Dicha reached this stage knocking out the Egyptian giants Zamalek with a 4-3 aggregate result on penalties in the second leg. In Egypt that defeat was considered as humiliating exit for their giants Zamalek from the African Confederation Cup.

For them it is seen as humiliating because Zamalek are five times former champions of Africa and they were beaten by a debutant side.

As a result of that win many expected that Welayta Dicha would directly join the lucrative group stage, but CAF regulation states that the win makes the side to play in the Confederation Cup play-offs. So they will face the African Champions League last-32 losers Young Africans.

Wolayita Dicha travelled to Egypt armed with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg of the continent's second-tier club tournament.

In the return leg the score-line was reversed with Zamalek winning their home leg 2-1.

Ahmed Madbouli had given the Egyptians a 2-0 lead, but Welayta Dicha levelled the aggregate score to 3-3 with a goal from Abdel-Samad.

That took the contest into a tense penalty shoot-out in front of Zamalek's own fans.

The pressure told on the hosts who missed two of the spot-kicks, with the visitors winning 4-3 to record a famous victory.

Following a 2-1 win over the visiting Egyptian side Zamalek on home ground in the first leg three weeks ago Dicha players were given 20, 000 birr bonus each.

The board of the club decided to give 520, 000 birr bonus to the players just a day after that sweet victory.

After winning the second leg Dicha supporters managed to raise 7 million birr for the players and the staff members.

Few expected that Wolayita would win over the highly favouriteZamalek. That is why many people rushed to the Bole international airport to give warm reception to the players when they came back from Egypt last week.

Wolayita Dicha were not even expected to lift the Ethiopian knock out trophy for the first time in their 5-year history.

Comparing to the 107 years of Zamalek history and 5 years Wolayita Dicha, the win sent the people to an all-night jubilation in their home town Wolayita Sodo. Beating the Egyptian side on their home ground gave the Ethiopians extreme jubilation.

Will Wolayita Dicha continue their surprise win in the international arena? Well, it may be difficult to predict that they will win their next match with certainty. For that matter football results are unpredictable but Wolayita Dicha are determined to repeat the feat they had shown in their previous four international matches when they take on the Tanzanian Young Africans side in the Confederation Cup play-offs.

The defeat is a further blow for Zamalek, whose arch-rivals Al Ahly won the domestic league title in Egypt last week.

Meanwhile, Wednesday's Confederation of African Football's Champions League draw produced exciting match-ups on the opening weekend with record-winners Al Ahly of Egypt, who were runners-up last year, hosting rivals Esperance of Tunisia in Group A.

This group also includes debutants Uganda's Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and Botswana's Township Rollers. KCCA are the winners over the Ethiopian side St. George.

Group B sees two former winners, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo (2015) and Entente Setif of Algeria (2014), open their campaign against each other.

Mouloudia Alger of Algeria and Difaa El Jadidi of Morocco are also in this group.

Holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco have pulled debutants AS Port of Togo in Group C along with 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Horoya of Guinea.

With this draw, it means the last two winners of the African Champions League, holders Wydad Casablanca and 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns, will go up against each other on the opening weekend of the group phase of the competition.

The South African club will host Wydad in Pretoria on either May 5 or 6 as the group campaign begins in what is expected to be a tight competition.

"We beat them at home, they beat us on return. They won on penalties and went on to win the title. Both teams want to know who is better," Sundowns Coach Pitso Mosimane said after the draw.

In Group D, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia will face Angola's Primeiro de Agosto, Zesco United of Zambia, as well as newcomers Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.

The group phase kicks off on the weekend of May 4-6. A second round of matches will be played midweek on May 15-16.

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