SA’s four sides competing in Confederation of African Football (Caf) club competitions in 2019 now know their path to the group stages after the draw was made at the weekend.
Orlando Pirates have perhaps been handed the toughest of the draws‚ and will likely have to overcome Zambian and Angolan opposition to book their place.
The two legs of both the Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions will be played on the weekends of August 9-11 and 23-25. Should teams advance to the next stage the matches will be played September 13-15 and 27-29.
Here is a look at the confirmed and potential opponents for the quartet of SA clubs.
Sundowns might have hoped for a bye through the first round of the Champions League‚ but will instead face Congolese opposition in the form of AS Otôho‚ who are the league winners in that country.
This will be Otôho’s third appearance in the competition after exiting in the preliminary round and first round in the past two editions. They did drop down to the Confederation Cup in 2018/19‚ where they faced a trio of Moroccan teams and finished bottom of the pool with five points from their six games.
The team is from Oyo‚ but play their Caf games at the 13‚000-seater Stade Omnisport Marien Ngouabi d’Owando‚ which is almost 500km north of Brazzaville. They have only lost one of their seven home games in Caf club competition‚ beaten 4-1 by Raja Casablanca last season.
Pirates will start the Champions League campaign with a meeting against Zambian side Green Eagles FC‚ who were runnersup in the Super League last season.
The team is coached by Aggrey Chiyangi‚ who led Zambia to the recent Cosafa Cup title in Durban‚ where he acted as caretaker coach of the national side.
Green Eagles recently competed in the 2019 CECAFA Kagame Cup in Rwanda‚ a club championship for East African sides‚ and lost in the semifinals to eventual champions KCCA from Uganda. The team plays at the modest Choma Independence Stadium‚ which is located in the south of the country near Livingston.
Eagles played in the CAF Confederation Cup last season‚ exiting in the first round when they were beaten by Algerian side NA Hussein Dey.
If Pirates advance they will likely meet top Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto in the next stage‚ assuming the later see off Zanzibar minnows KMKM SC.
Despite the denials from the club‚ Wits appear reluctant participants in African club competition and just how motivated they will be for the Confederation Cup remains to be seen.
They are just two ties away from the group stages though having been given a bye through the preliminary round‚ and await the winner of the clash between Zambian side Buildcon FC and Young Buffaloes from Eswatini.
Buildcon are coached by the Serbian Srdjan Zivojnov‚ who has raised the level of the team after taking over in January‚ taking the team to third place in the league. The club has only been in existence since 2012 and promoted to the topflight two years ago. A year earlier they were sold to Ndola-based building contractors Buildcon and relocated there‚ where they play at the 40‚000-seater Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
They will be favourites to get past Young Buffaloes‚ who Cape Town City beat 2-0 on aggregate in the 2018 Confederation Cup.
Wits reached the third round of the Confederation Cup in 2017 and 2018‚ but lost to Smouha (Egypt) and Enyimba (Nigeria) respectively.
National First Division side TS Galaxy take their place in the Confederation Cup after their sensational Nedbank Cup win last season and might fancy their chances of a run in the competition.
They start with a preliminary round clash against Saint Louis Suns United from the Seychelles‚ more commonly known as St Louis. The club is 12 years old‚ having been founded after a merger between Saint Louis FC and Sunshine SC‚ and were 2017 league champions in the Seychelles‚ though they only finished third in 2018.
They do have some pedigree in African club competition‚ though not in their present guise‚ and were ousted in the preliminary round of the Confederation Cup in 2004 while campaigning as Saint Louis.
Should Galaxy advance as expected‚ they will meet Madagascan side Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale Sport‚ better known as CnaPS‚ in the next stage.
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