Egyptian side Al Masry will kick off their Total CAF Confederation Cup campaign when they entertain Zambia's Green Buffaloes on Saturday in Port Said, 200-kilometers west of the capital Cairo.
The game marks the first competitive match to be played at Port Said stadium in six years. In February 2012, some 72 fans died following incidents after a domestic league game between Masry and Al Ahly. The aftermath witnessed almost all domestic games in Egypt played behind closed doors, and the Port Said Stadium closed for five years.
It will be Masry's second successive appearance in the continent's second tier club competition. Last year, the PortSaid-based club reached the Play-off round before losing on penalties to Kampala City Council Authority of Uganda.
Finishing last season in fourth place, coupled with reaching the Egyptian Cup final earned them a ticket to the Total CAF Confederation Cup. Besides last year's exit at the Play-off stage, Masry reached the semi-final of the defunct CAF Cup Winners' Cup in 1999, before repeating the same feat in another defunct competition, CAF Cup in 2002.
Coached by legendary Hossam Hassan, Masry are currently third on the Egyptian Premier League log, with 41 points from 22 games, four points adrift of second place Ismaily and 13 shy of leaders Al Ahly, with 12 games to spare. Last weekend, Masry beat Misr Makkassa 4-1 in the domestic league.
"We have to put our domestic campaign aside and shift our attention to the CAF Confederation Cup," Hassan told the reporters after beating Makassa last Sunday.
"We are ready and poised to grab a positive result to make the return leg in Zambia a mere formality," he added.
Among the goal scorers last Sunday was Burkinabe-import Aristide Bance, who marked his return to the Port Said side after some contractual disputes by scoring from the spot. Bance will be one of Hassan's weapons this Saturday, besides new signing Islam Eissa and top scorer Ahmed Gomaa.
"Returning to play in Port Said will be an additional motivation for us. Our supporters will add their charm and will lead us to get the result we're aiming for. I'm positive we will reach the next round", concluded Hassan, who netted historical 70 goals in 169 caps with Egypt.
The winner after two legs will have a date with either Tanzania's Simba or Gendarmerie of Djibouti.
Friday, 9 February 2018
Djoliba (Mali) vs ELWA United (Liberia)*
Onze Createurs (Mali) vs CR Belouizdad (Algeria)
Saturday, 10 February 2018
Petro Atletico (Angola) vs Masters Security (Malawi)
Young Buffaloes (Swaziland) vs Cape Town City (South Africa)
Costa do Sol (Mozambique) vs Jwaneng (Botswana)
Energie (Benin) vs Hafia (Guinea)
Ngazi Sport (Comoros) vs Port Louis (Mauritius)
Mangasport (Gabon) vs Maniema Union (DR Congo)
Olympic Star (Burundi) vs Etoile Filante (Burkina Faso)
New Stars (Cameroon) vs Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea)
Tanda (Cote d'Ivoire) vs CS la Mancha (Congo)
Al Ittihad (Libya) vs Sahel (Niger)
US Ben Guerdane (Tunisia) vs Hilal Juba (South Sudan)
El Masry (Egypt) vs Green Buffaloes (Zambia)
Sunday, 11 February 2018
APR (Rwanda) vs Anse Reunion (Seychelles)
Akwa United (Nigeria) vs Hawks (Gambia)
Asante Kotoko (Ghana) vs CARA (Congo)
AFC Leopards (Kenya) vs FOSA Juniors (Madagascar)
Simba (Tanzania) vs Gendarmerie (Djibouti)
RS Berkane (Morocco) vs Mbour Petite Cote (Senegal)
Africa Sports (Cote d'Ivoire) vs FC Nouadhibou (Mauritania)
Zimamoto (Zanzibar) vs Wolaitta Dicha (Ethiopia)
*ELWA United withdrew