Saturday's Caf Champions League preview: TP Mazembe seek redemption against Club Africain, Vita face Saoura

Congolese giants TP Mazembe and AS Vita both host North African opponents, while Al Ahly face Simba at home

The 2018/19 Caf Champions League group phase enters day three with Congolese giants TP Mazembe seeking to pick themselves up against Tunisian side Club Africain in Lumbumbashi on Saturday.

After suffering a heavy 3-0 away at Algerian champions CS Constantine in their last Group C match, TP Mazembe will be out to recover.

But it might not be an easy day against Club Africain who are also keen to record their first set of points in this group.

Club Africain and TP Mazembe’s are back on ground zero after their victories over Ismaily were nullified by Caf following the Egyptian side's expulsion from the tournament for disciplinary reasons.

Group leaders Constantine are inactive this weekend and Saturday’s winner between Mazembe and Club Africain would still be on second spot with three points behind the Algerians who also beat Club Africain 1-0 away.

However, five-time African champions TP Mazembe would be keen to use home advantage as they also welcome back from injury captain Rainford Kalaba.

Veteran defender Jean Kasusula is also back while right-back Godet Masengu returns from a loan spell at Don Bosco.

It would be seen if TP Mazembe coach Pamphile Mihayo will field 20-year-old new striker Owe Bonyanga.

Elsewhere in Kinshasa, another Congolese heavyweight AS Vita at will be hosting Algerian side JS Saoura in a Group D tie at the Stade des Martyrs.

The Congolese giants enter this match buoyed after crushing Tanzanian giants Simba 5-0 in their last match at home again.

This was after falling 2-0 away at Al Ahly in their opening match and they are now on second spot in this group.

Vita’s chief forward Jean-Marc Makusu has carried on with the scintillating form that saw him amongst the standout performers in last season’s Caf Confederation Cup.

After the striker struck a brace against Simba, he is expected to be again at his lethal best against Saoura who are at the bottom of Group D with just a point from the 1-1 draw with Al Ahly.

However, Vita coach Florent Ibenge is not happy about the scheduling of this match which is set to kickoff at 16.00hrs (GMT)

“We will play at 17.00hrs Kinshasa time, but I regret a lot. When we play in the Maghreb, they (Caf) schedule the matches at 21.00hrs in winter and when they come to us, we are not able to play games at times we are comfortable with at 14.00rs or 15.00hrs. So somewhere, the Caf is not fair,” Ibenge was quoted as saying by MediaCongo.

“It's one of those little things that sometimes shows that we're not yet big enough. We must grow and know how to impose what we are doing elsewhere. Nevertheless… we'll be back at 17.00hrs to simply win.”

In another Group D match, injury-blighted Al Ahly will face wounded Tanzanian giants Simba at Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria.

Group leaders Al Ahly, without key injured players, would be out to consolidate their unbeaten run that has a win and a draw, while Simba are keen to recover from the 5-0 demolition by AS Vita in their last game.

Simba will start life without winger Shiza Kichuya who joined Egyptian second division side Pharco this week, before being immediately loaned out to Premier League side Enppi.

But Simba’s Belgian coach Patrick Aussems welcomes back from injury star striker John Bocco whom he believes could be influential against Al Ahly who are difficult to beat in their own backyard.

In Zimbabwe’s second-largest city Bulawayo, FC Platinum and Horoya are searching for their first set of three points in Group B after failing to win in their last games.

Both sides are coming from defeats, FC Platinum smart from the 2-0 away loss to Esperance while Guinean champions Horoya were thumped 3-0 by Orlando Pirates.

As for FC Platinum, they will also be in search of their first ever goal in the group stages, having also drawn 0-0 with Orlando Pirates in their opening match.

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Horoya welcome back from injury Senegal’s World Cup goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye who missed their last two games.

Teenage left-back and Guinea international Samuel Conte also returns from injury and could start against the platinum miners.

Malian goalkeeper Germain Berthe, however, did not make the trip to FC Platinum with an injury while striker Daouda Camara is also out.