Caf have announced that the top-ranked team in the Caf Confederation Cup will not participate in the Confederation Cup playoffs which involve teams relegated from the Champions League.
Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel are the highest ranked team in the Confederation Cup and will avoid the playoffs if they manage to get past Stade d’Abidjan in Friday’s first round, second leg tie away in the Ivory Coast.
Etoile, who are set to bring back legendary Frenchman Roger Lemerre as their coach, lead Stade d’Abidjan 3-0 from the first leg.
Winners of the Confederation Cup first round hurdle will have to play losers from the Champions League first round before proceeding to the group phase.
With 15 teams set to qualify into the Caf Champions League group stage after this weekend’s matches, to join reigning champions Esperance, Caf have decided to have the best team in the Confederation Cup proceed straight to the group phase without taking part in the playoffs.
“Hence, there will be 16 teams qualified from the 1/16th final of CC (Confederation Cup) to play the 2nd 1/16th final against 15 teams only from CL (Champions League),” said Caf in a statement.
“It was then decided to exempt the best-ranked team among the 16 teams qualified from the 1/16th final of CC. This team will be exempted from the 2nd 1/16th final and will be qualified directly to the group matches of CC.”
In the event Etoile are eliminated by Stade d’Abidjan, Egyptian giants Zamalek will go straight into the group stages by virtue of being ranked second behind Etoile and having also beaten Ascot of Chad.
Interestingly, defending champions Raja Casablanca follow Zamalek as the third-best team in the Confederation Cup, followed by Al Masry.