Saturday's Caf Champions League Preview: AS Vita visit Al Ahly, TP Mazembe host Ismaily while Simba stalk Saoura

Al-Ahly Cairo
The Caf Champions League opening group matches continue on Saturday with exciting clashes in Cairo, Lubumbashi and Dar-es-Salaam

Egyptian giants Al Ahly will receive AS Vita on Saturday in a potentially fiery affair at the Borg El Arab Stadium.

Having finished as runners up in the past two editions, Al Ahly are wounded and keen to relaunch another attempt at the ultimate prize in African club football.

But facing AS Vita could not be an everyday meal for the Egyptians, who will be coming up against last season's Caf Confederation Cup finalists.

To show their seriousness in this competition, Al Ahly have included in their squad new signing Hussein El-Shahat, Ramadan Sobhi (on loan from Emgish Premier League side Huddersfield) and Yasser Ibrahim signed from Smouha.

Al-Ahly Cairo

The full-strength squad assembled by their Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte is clearly reflective of Al Ahly's title intentions although they will be missing injured midfielder Mohamed Mahmoud and star striker Walid Azarouu.

AS Vita coach Florent Ibenge has also, on the other hand,  named a strong side to do duty in Egypt which includes Ugandan defender Savio Kabugo.

After losing midfielder Eddy Ngoyi and forward Mukoko Batezadio, AS Vita could be forced to let go of even more key squad members but Ibenge is maintaining a brave face that his squad is good enough to face Al Ahly.

Elsewhere, another Congolese giant TP Mazembe interestingly hosts Egyptian opponents Ismaily in Lubumbashi.

Five-time champions Mazembe are keen to atone for last season's quarter-final elimination and start their group stage campaign against Ismaily who made a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2010.

TP Mazembe celebrate

The tie in Lubumbashi will see Mazembe featuring a squad that includes veteran Tresor Mputu who was instrumental in eliminating Zesco United in the first round.

Ismaily on the other page arrived in Congo brimming with confidence ahead of this potentially stormy affair.

Meanwhile, Simba's Belgian coach Patrick Aussems has warned Algerian side JS Saoura of an upset.

The Tanzanians will welcome Saoura at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam seeking to leave a mark in the Champions League. 

“Our opponents might see us as underdogs but that is the advantage for us. Our first target was to reach the group phase but now we need to fight and see what we can do in our group,” Aussems told Cafonline.

“We are not going to change our approach. We have scored 12 goals in the last four games, that’s our strength, and we will continue to play that way, we believe that our opponents will be in trouble," he concluded.


Article continues below

On their way to the group phase, Simba eliminated last season's group stage finalists Mbabane Swallows as well as Zambian giants Nkana and scored an awe-inspiring 12 goals in four games. 

That alone could be a cause for concern for Saoura who are yet to make a name for themselves in Africa.