Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

The draws for both the Caf Champions League and the Caf Confederation Cup‚ which kick off at the end of November‚ have been delayed, but leaks say Orlando Pirates will meet Swazi opposition and Mamelodi Sundowns have been given a bye.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) had planned to release the pairings for the first two knockout rounds last Saturday but delayed them as they sought clarification over the possibility that Morocco might have to change their entrants.

This depended on the outcome of the upcoming Confederation Cup final between Raja Casablanca and AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo. That clarification will come from Caf’s emergency committee soon and is not more than a small procedural matter.

But it has meant a longer wait for the draw. "Draw" is perhaps the wrong term because it is tradition that parings for the early knockout rounds in the two annual Caf competitions are worked out in committee and not picked out of a hat.

This has always been the case so that pairings are made with geographical considerations a priority to ensure that the small clubs are not subjected to bank-breaking cross-continental travel. Costs are kept down as clubs are paired with teams from nearby countries.

The "draw" is therefore the work of officials in the competitions department at Caf HQ in Cairo and is then massaged and modified at the meeting of the Caf Inter-Clubs Committee.

There was such a meeting in Marrakesh last week‚ but members were unable to decide what to do about Morocco‚ so have kicked a decision upstairs to the emergency committee.

But leaks from the Marrakesh meeting reveal that Pirates have been pitted against Mbabane Swallows in the Champions League while Sundowns have been handed a first-round bye. If this is the
case‚ then it is a tough draw for the Buccaneers. The Swazi club in 2018 became the first team from eSwatini to qualify for the Champions League group stages.

A draw will be conducted just after Christmas in Cairo.

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