2013 Orange CAF Champions League: Big guns face tricky away duels

Al Ahly of Egypt
Al Ahly of Egypt

Tricky away duels await holders Al Ahly and five former winners of the premier continental club tournament with the first leg matches of the 1/16th round of the 2013 Orange CAF Champions League due for this weekend.

Ahly, the most successful club in the history of the prestigious annual competition with seven triumphs begin their defence with a trip to Nairobi as guests of Kenyan champions, Tusker FC in an encounter that heavily tilts the direction of the visitors.
The Cairo giants, who drew a bye at the prelims travel to East Africa to face the Kenyan ‘Brewers’ with a depleted side following injuries to some key players. The Egyptians have lost talisman Mohamed Aboutreika to United Arab Emirates outfit, Bani Yas, and will be without midfielder Shehab Ahmed due to injury whilst the duo of Rami Rabiea and Mahmoud Hassan are on duty with the Young Pharaohs at the African Youth Championship due to kick start in Algeria at the weekend.
Tusker are hoping to mastermind the biggest upset so far by registering a comfortable win against the ‘Red Devils’ after thumping Seychellois champions, St Michel United 7-1 at the previous round.
Last year’s losing finalists, Esperance from Tunisia, four-time winners TP Mazembe, South African champions Orlando Pirates, twice champions Asante Kotoko and Cameroonian side Union Douala also have similar tasks on the busy weekend.
Esperance will trek down south to face Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto just as Mazembe against Mochudi Centre Chiefs of Botswana.
Pirates, the only South African side to have laid their hands on the ‘Holy Grail’ of African club football have been boosted by the availability of veteran striker Benni McCarthy and Joseph Moeneebs for their clash with Zambian side, Zanaco in Lusaka.
TP Mazembe
TP Mazembe

Zanaco, six-time Zambian champions, have no rich history at this level, however, Collins Mbesuma, Zambian-born forward on the roster of the South African champions reckons they will be no pushovers.

“Zanaco have a huge support base in Lusaka and Ndola, so we can expect a capacity crowd when we face them over the weekend and they will be no pushovers too,” Mbesuma was quoted by his club’s website.
Elsewhere in the Algerian port city of Bejaia, JSM Bejaia hosts Ghana champions Asante Kotoko, with the record that the ‘Porcupine Warriors’ has never won against an opposition from that country serving their bedrock. Bejaia are making their debut appearance at this level but take consolation from the fact that Moroccan side Ittihad Khemisset, then newcomers crushed the 1970 and 1983 champions at the knockout stage three years ago.
Kotoko go into the match with a high level of confidence with a double over Equatoguinean side, Sony El Nguema, 8-0 on aggregate. The Kumasi-based side has set sights on their first continental silverware in 30-years and striker Abdul Aziz Yusif is optimistic the Algerians can’t come between that aspiration.
“We are preparing very hard. We know that it is not going to be easy. We want to go far in the competition and hope to go there and beat them,” Yusif said.
In Rabat, Union Douala, winners in 1979 face a daunting task against FUS Rabat of Morocco in their quest to reclaim their place amongst the elite of African football. The Douala-based club has failed severally to impress at the big stake since winning the 1981 defunct Cup Winners Cup. The Cameroonians squeezed past LISCR of Liberia 3-1 on aggregate at the previous round and must expect a tough test against FUS Rabat, winners of the Orange CAF Confederation Cup two years ago.
Five-time winners, Zamalek will square AS Vita Club of DR Congo in a battle of former winners in Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt.
St. George
St. George

Ethiopian champions, Saint George, one of the biggest winners at the preliminary round welcome Malian side Djoliba to Addis Ababa, whilst the latter’s archrivals, Stade Malien face Casa Sports of Senegal in an-all West African affair in Ziguinchor.

Sudanese duo, Al Merrikh and Al Hilal will be away to Recreativo de Libolo and Sewe San Pedro of Angola and Cote d’Ivoire respectively.
Algerian champions, Entente Setif lock horns with their Burkinabe counterparts ASFA Yennega in a repeat of their clash at the same stage two years ago. The ‘Black Eagles’ won that meeting 2-0 and are highly favoured to repeat the dose over their guests who sneaked into this round via penalties at the expense of ASPAC of Benin.
Vital’ O of Burundi will square Enugu Rangers of Nigeria in Bujumbura, Club Athletic Bizertin of Tunisia against Dynamos of Zimbabwe whilst Ivorian side AF Amadou Diallo battles it out with Coton Sport from Cameroon.
In the northern Nigerian city of Kano, Pillars will seek for a first leg cushion against Orange CAF Confederation Cup holders, AC Leopards.
The second leg matches will take place on the weekend of 5-7 April, 2013.
Fixtures
Zamalek (Egypt) vs AS Vita Club (DR Congo)
Saint George (Ethiopia) vs Djoliba AC (Mali)
C.A.B (Tunisia) vs Dynamos (Zimbabwe)
Tusker (Kenya) vs Al Ahly (Egypt)
Zanaco (Zambia) vs Orlando Pirates (South Africa)
Mochudi C.Chiefs (Botswana) vs TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
Vital’O (Burundi) vs Rangers (Nigeria)
Recreativo de Libolo (Angola) vs Al Merreikh (Sudan)
JSM Bejaïa (Algeria) vs Asante Kotoko (Ghana)
Primeiro de Agosto (Angola) vs EST (Tunisia)
FUS (Morocco) vs Union Douala (Cameroon)
Sewe San Pedro (Cote d’Ivoire) vs El Hilal (Sudan)
AF Amadou Diallo (Cote d’Ivoire) vs Coton Sport (Cameroon)
Casa Sport (Senegal) vs Stade Malien (Mali)
Kano Pillars (Nigeria) vs AC Leopards (Congo)
ASFA Yennega (Burkina Faso) vs Entente Setif (Algeria)
Source: CAFOnline.com
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