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CAF Champions League/Confederation Cup Selected Matches Preview

Matchday two of the CAFCL kicks off this weekend, and the intrigue and buzz continues to grow alongside football and standard of the tournament on a whole. Mamelodi Sundowns have traveled to Egypt to take on Sudanese side Al-Merrikh, while debutants AmaZulu welcome Guinean champions, Horoya. And on Sunday, Soweto giants Orlando Pirates make their way to Libya in the CAF Confederation Cup to tackle the giants, Al-Ittihad Club.

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Friday 18 February

AmaZulu 9/10
Draw 17/10
Horoya 46/10
(21:00)

AmaZulu are set to play their first ever home fixture in the CAF Champions League at the infamous Moses Mabhida Stadium. Horoya have more pedigree in the continents finest competition having made 12 appearances to date, whereas the home team are making their debut, but both sides did lose their opening fixtures.

Benni McCarthy has stated he is confident coming into this encounter. AmaZulu’s loss to Casablanca was not as black and white knowing full and well they were able to create enough opportunities to get something from the fixture even striking the post on one occasion.

Horoya were able to dominate possession against ES Setif creating six shots on goal but were not clinical enough to get over the line. After going down by one goal on the 47th minute, they were then struck another blow in main striker Yakhouba Gnagna Barry receiving a red card in the 69th minute who will miss the tie in Durban, South Africa.

Raja Casablanca are a very technical team as opposed to Horoya’s more physical presence they bring to the field of play. AmaZulu, have a combination of physicality as well as technical play, but most importantly the mentality to win prevails amongst all traits under McCarthy.

On home soil, despite not having fans, I have to back AmaZulu in nicking a win over the Guinean side to earn their first ever CAF Champions league group stage win.

Saturday 19 February

Al-Merrikh 22/10
Draw 2/1
Mamelodi Sundowns 12/10
(15:00)

The opening round of fixtures was missed by Al-Merrick as they were meant to face Al Ahly who played in the FIFA Club World Cup, and their first fixture will be against Mamelodi Sundowns who won their opening match on home soil.

While this should have been a home fixture for the Sudanese side, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at the new CAF rules concerning stadiums, and will now play their ‘home’ fixtures from Egyptian stadium Al-Salam in Cairo, Egypt.

Al-Merrikh’s first preliminary round was a 2-2 win on away goals over Ugandan side Express FC followed by their second preliminary 4-2 aggregate victory over Zambian football club Zanaco and subsequent qualification to participate in group A.

Mamelodi Sundowns kicked off their group stage campaign in a far from convincing one goal victory over Al-Hilal last time out. Themba Zwane found the back of the net as early as the eighth minute but struggled to create much more chances. In actual fact it wasn’t so much a chance created but more a forced error through Masandawa’s early front foot pressure that afforded them the only goal to win the match.

Coach Rulani Mokwena knows it will be a tough battle in Egypt, and the toughest battle of the group still remains in Al Ahly, so a confident performance is in order from the sole representatives of the Yellow Nation. I do believe Sundowns are capable of much better, and the pressure to perform will not get in their way this time around. Bet on the away team at rather favourable odds.

Sunday 20 February

Al-Ittihad 15/10
Draw 2/1
Orlando Pirates 18/10
(18:00)

On Sunday, in the CAF Confederation Cup, Soweto giants Orlando Pirates have made their way Benghazi, Libya to face the most successful team in the land, Al-Ittihad.

Last season Orlando Pirates faced Al-Ahly Benghazi at the exact same stadium they will now play at. A sense of familiarity will go a long way in this competition, but non the less is a tough game coming up in the words of coach Fadlu Davids.

Pirates sit top of group B after putting together a confident performance against Algerian side Saoura at Orlando stadium. An early third minute goal from captain Happy Jele via a set piece, followed by well worked goal by Bandile Shandu after a patient build up.

Al-Ittihad will play their first CAF Confederation Cup fixture of the group this Sunday. After being eliminated from the preliminary rounds of the CAF champions league, Al-Ittihad found themselves facing Nigerian powerhouse Enyimba who failed to travel to Libya to honour their first leg handing a walkover to Al-Ittihad, but the two did face off in Nigeria where Al-Ittihad was able to pick up a 2-0 victory.

It will no doubt be an Orlando Pirates and Al-Ittihad’s toughest fixture of the group, very well deciding who takes the first spot in group B. I do however find that with the away team’s familiarity with stadium being played they will be able to find a draw against the Libyan side.

TREBLE @ 76/10

AmaZulu Win 9/10
Mamelodi Sundowns Win 12/10
Al-Hittad/Orlando Pirates Draw 2/1

Written by Joshua Gaillard