The final round of qualifying for the 2017 Caf Confederations Cup begins this weekend. A place in the lucrative group stages is at stake and for the first-time South Africa could possibly have three sides in the next round of the competition.
For South African teams, the action starts on Saturday afternoon. Following Bidvest Wits' elimination from the first-tier Caf Champions League, the Students have a chance at redemption as they welcome Egyptian side Smouha.
Gavin Hunt’s men go into the clash a defeated side as they were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup in midweek, by National First Division (NFD) outfit Jomo Cosmos. Hunt was left furious following the defeat as he had given many of his fringe players some game time. However, it is expected that Hunt will select a strong team as he hopes to take full advantage of the home ground support.
Going into the clash Wits will be wary of Smouha, the Egyptians bring with them typical North African organisation and they are a dangerous side as they finished third in the league, behind giant’s Al Ahly and Zamalek.
Meanwhile, Platinum Stars travel to the Ivory Coast to face off against Association Sportive Tanda. The club from the Tanda region are the defending 2016 Ligue 1 champions and are a relatively unknown quantity for Dikwena.
Cavin Johnson’s men will go into the encounter, buoyed on by their progress into the next round of the Cup, on Tuesday. Stars overcame a tricky Baroka FC side and Johnson is expected to rotate his squad in order to maintain freshness and deal with injuries.
Stars will go into Sunday’s clash without the suspended Robert Ng'ambi. The 30-year-old was sent off in the previous round against Mozambican side Uniao Desportiva Do Songo. Johnson’s men will also be forced to contend with an artificial playing surface but the coach has maintained in the build up to the clash that he is unfazed.
Lastly, SuperSport United have the unenviable task of making the long trip to Liberia. Matsatsantsa are set to lock horns against the Liberian Champions Barrack Young Controllers on Sunday.
Due to SuperSport’s congested fixture list coach Stuart Baxter will continue to employ his rotation policy, considering that they have the small matter of a Tshwane derby against Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday.
SuperSport’s form has dipped of recent times and despite their midweek victory over their tier side KwaDukuza, much has been made of the effect of the uncertainty of Baxter’s future, has had on SuperSport.
For all the South African sides involved, focus will be firmly on their recovery following their involvement in midweek.