Caf Champions League round-up: Group stage kicks off

The 2013 Caf Champions League group stage begins this weekend with two fixtures, while the remaining two will be played next week

Teams participating in this year’s Caf Champions League group stage will swing into action this weekend across the continent. However, instead of four games as usual in each match day, only two will be played following the adjustment of the fixture between Cameroon’s Coton Sport and Cote D’Ivoire champions Sewe Sport due to the temporary suspension imposed on Cameroon by Fifa. The clash between Egyptian sides Zamalek and Al Ahly has also been postponed until next week.

Group A

Saturday July 20, 2013

Orlando Pirates (South Africa) – AC Leopards (Congo)

South Africa representatives Orlando Pirates, who won the Caf Champions League in 1995, will play host to the Republic of Congo champions AC Leopard on Saturday in Group A game. Although the Buccaneers are favoured for a win over their visitors, the central Africans, who are newcomers to the competition, have greatly improved over the years, winning the 2012 Confederation Cup and losing by a slim margin of 2-1 the 2013 Caf Super Cup to title holders Al Ahly in Alexandria. They can stand up to the challenge at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

Wednesday July 24, 2013

Zamalek (Egypt) – Al Ahly (Egypt)

The Cairo derby shifts to the Caf Champions League between cross-town rivals Zamalek and title holders Al Ahly and will be centred at their usual ground, the Cairo International Stadium, but this time under tight security due to the political situation in the North African country. And it is yet unclear whether the facility which accommodates up to 75,000 people will be allowed to hold full capacity. However, Zamalek coach Helmy Toulan has promised fans they would start off on a good note to make life easier for them in the campaign.

Group B

Sunday July 21, 2013

Recreativo Libolo (Angola) – Esperance Tunis (Tunisia)

After losing the domestic league title for the first time since 2009, Esperance Tunis are hanging hopes on the Champions League to win back frustrated local fans. The Blood and Gold have won the continental competition twice, in 1994 and 2011 and are confident of a worthwhile campaign. However, Angolans Recreativo Libolo, who have put up only two appearances without progressing from the preliminary stage, count on recent reforms within the outfit for a breakthrough.

Postponed until the weekend of July 26, 27, 28, 2013

Coton Sport Garoua (Cameroun) – Sewe San Pedro (Cote d’Ivoire)

The meeting was affected by the temporary suspension imposed on Cameroon by Fifa. However, Cameroonian officials, upon their return from Fifa headquarters in Zurich, announced that both sides have reached an agreement and that Coton Sport would be able to host their Ivorian visitors during the weekend of July 26, 27, 28.