Last week the Prelimiary Round of the CAF Champions League was completed. 23 sides from across Africa will now join the 9 seeds in the First Round proper that kicks off on the weekend of the 19th March.
It’s been a turbulent time in Africa for many of the North African teams involved in the competition. Zamalek’s match against Kenya’s Ulinzi Stars was supposed to take place in Cairo, before the troubles began, it was then re-scheduled to be played in Libya (of all places). Mercifully for Zamalek the Egyptian government was toppled and the match eventually went ahead in Egypt with the Cairo giants winning the match one goal to nil in front of a jubilant crowd, having already secured a four goal victory in Kenya a two weeks previously
The biggest win of the Preliminary Round was in Morocco where Raja Casablanca defeated Tourbillon by a startling 10 goals to 1 in their first leg tie. In fact, the Chadian side were so upset with their first leg performance they decided to withdraw from the competition (despite being in possession of a vital away goal). It was an incredibly disappointing performance from Tourbillon who will have been well aware that fellow Chadians Gazelle FC made it through to the first round in last year’s competition.
Zanzibar Ocean View‘s CAF dreams came to an end after losing their return leg to AS Vita Club of DR Congo by three goals to nil. Ocean View were only founded a couple of years ago so can be proud of holding the DR Congo Champions to a 1-1 home draw before finally bowing out of the competition. One of the best known African clubs in the UK (due to the production of players such as Solomon Kalou, Eboue and the Toure brothers) are ASEC Mimosas, and they made easy work of their preliminary round tie winning it 9-0 on aggregate. Antoine N’Gossan (who is currently on loan from Charlton Athletic to the Ivorian side) scored ASEC’s second goal in their 2-0 second leg win over CF Cansado in Mauritania, which must have felt about as far from The Valley as is possible to get.
To prove that the World Cup 2010 lives on, Supersport of South Africa made the second round with a player by the name of Jabulani Maluleke (please insert your own joke about how the player moves here) scoring a goal in a 2-0 first leg victory over Lesotho’s Matlama. The South African side lost the second leg 2-1 in Lesotho which was just about enough to sneak them through into the first round.
Ghanaian sides continued their recent poor form in European competition as Aduana Stars went down 3-1 over two legs to Moroccan Botala Champions Wydad Casablanca. Despite their dominance of the African international scene Ghana can’t boast the same sort of quality in their domestic leagues, it’s been twenty years since a Ghanaian side made it to the semi-finals of this competition and you have to go back as far as 1983 to find a Ghanaian winner of the CAF Champions League. Another international heavyweight Cameroon could find themselves in the same position as Ghana at the end of Round One with no teams left in CAF’s premier club competition as their only remaining team Contonsport face the daunting challenge of current African champions TP Mazembe and look almost certain to crash out.
CAF Champions League Round 1
- JC Abidjan (CIV) vs Ittihad (LBY)
- US Bitam (GAB) vs Enyimba(NIG)
- Dynamos (ZIM) vs MC Alger (ALG)
- Al-Merreikh(SUD) vs Inter Luanda (ANG)
- Diaraf (SEN) vs Djoliba (MAL)
- Espérance ST (TUN) vs ASPAC (BEN)
- Motor Action (ZIM) vs ASEC Mimosas (CIV)
- Stade Malien (MAL) vs Raja Casablanca (MAR)
- Club Africain (TUN) vs Zamalek (EGY)
- Al-Hilal (SUD) vs Recreativo Caála (ANG)
- TP Mazembe (DRC) vs K Simba (TAN)
- Wydad Casablanca (MOR) vs Kano Pillars (NIG)
- ES Sétif (TUN) vs ASFA Yennenga (BUR)
- AS Vita Club (DRC) vs Cotonsport (CMR)
- Al-Ahly (EGY) vs Supersport United (SAF)
- ZESCO United (ZAM) vs Young Buffaloes (SWA)
Countries with two sides in Round 1: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Sudan, Angola, Mali, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and DR Congo.
Countries with one side in Round 1: Libya, Gabon, Senegal, Benin, Tanzania, Burundi, Cameroon, South Africa, Zambia and Swaziland.