Seven Southern Africa clubs eye CAF Champions League crown

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Tadious Manyepo

Harare - Seven clubs from across Southern Africa begin the hunt for continental glory this weekend as the CAF Champions League group stage matches burst into life.

Teams from the SADC region dominate the last 16, which have been split into four groups of four each.

And, they are all hoping to replicate what South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns did two years ago when they powered their way to the podium.

But, they will have to be disciplined if they are to overcome the group stage hurdle which begins with tricky assignments for most of them this weekend.

Mamelodi Sundowns themselves host fellow regional representatives Petro de Luanda in Pretoria on Saturday.

The Pitso Mosimane side have been the most consistent side from this part of Africa and they will be hoping to register a positive result in their first match.

Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum are in the group stages of this tournament for the second season running but they are in a pool which doesn’t look any easier, at least on paper.

They make the long trip to North Africa for a date against Sudanese powerhouse, Al-Hilal on Friday night.

FC Platinum coach Lizwe Sweswe predicted a tough ride but retained confidence his team will prevail.

“We are staring at a very difficult assignment. Our opponents are well known African powerhouses. They have been in the continental trenches for some time now. They know what ought to be done. To make matters worse, we are facing them at their own home turf,” said Sweswe.

“But then, we are FC Platinum. We are Zimbabwean champions. We are at this stage of the CAF Champions League on merit. We did extremely well to be where we are now. What that basically means is that we are competitive enough.

“We fear no one though we indeed respect everyone. This is football. We have to put our principles of the game to perfection. We need to be intact at the back, fluid in midfield and swift in attack.

“We know for sure the first game is very crucial. We have to get a result. We need play with our hearts, put our bodies on the wall and see what comes out,” he said.

Another Angolan side, Petro de Agosto, host neighbours ZESCO United of Zambia while TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo entertain Egypt’s Zamalek on Saturday.

But before that, AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo travel to JS Kabylie on Friday.

Fixtures

Friday

Al-Hilal v FC Platinum

JS Kabylie v Vita Club

Etoile du Sahel v Al Ahly

Saturday

TP Mazembe v Zamalek

Agosto v ZESCO United

USM Alger v WAC Casablanca

Raja Casablanca v ES Tunis

Mamelodi Sundowns v Petro de Luanda.

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