CAF holds draws for Champions League group stage, Confederation Cup qualifiers

TOPSHOT - This picture shows the trophy prior to the draw of the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Champions league at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cairo on December 28, 2018. (Photo by MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

The Confederation of African Football on Friday held the draws for this season’s Champions League group stage and the additional second preliminary round of the Confederation Cup at CAF headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

Defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt will begin the defense of their title against Al-Merreikh of Sudan in Group A, which also features former winners AS Vita Club of DR Congo and Tanzanian giants Simba S.C.

FILE PHOTO: A picture showing the CAF Champions League trophy. (Photo credit MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

Five-time winners TP Mazembe of DR Congo were drawn with 2016 champions Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), two-time runners-up Al Hilal of Sudan and CR Belouizdad (Algeria) in Group B.

Two-time champions and last season’s semifinalists Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco are in Group C along with Horoya AC (Guinea), Atletico Petroleos (Angola) and Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa).

Group D saw five-time winners and last season’s beaten finalists Zamalek (Egypt) drawn alongside four-time champions Esperance (Tunisia), MC Alger (Algeria) and the conquerors of Raja Casablanca in the qualifiers, Teungueth of Senegal.

In the Confederation Cup, holders RS Berkane (Morocco) automatically qualified for the group stage after the withdrawal of Chad’s Gazelle FC from the Champions League necessitated a change by CAF due to an imbalance in the number of teams which dropped from the Champions League qualifiers (15) and the Confederation Cup (16).

“In order to offset this difference, the highest ranked CC team according to CAF’s official clubs ranking for the 2020/21 season automatically qualified to the group stage of the competition,” CAF said.

2020 finalists Pyramids F.C. (Egypt) will continue their quest for a maiden continental title by taking on RC Abidjan of Côte d’Ivoire while 2018 champions Raja Casablanca (Morocco) faces US Monastir Tunisia.

Three-time winners CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) will face AS Kigali (Rwanda), two-time winners Étoile Sportive du Sahel (Tunisia) will play Young Buffaloes of Eswatini.

Zambian giants Nkana F.C. will aim to extend their long-running unbeaten home streak in continental competitions against TAS Casablanca and Kenyan league champions Gor Mahia will hope to prevail against NAPSA Stars (Zambia).

Nigerian club Enyimba will await the winners of the tie between local rivals Rivers United and Bloemfontein Celtic (South Africa) and Ghana’s Asante Kotoko will face E.S. Setif (Algeria).

Batswana champions Jwaneng Galaxy, who were eliminated from the Champions League by Mamelodi Sundowns, will come up against South African opposition yet again in the shape of 2015 runners-up Orlando Pirates.

Other fixtures in the Confederation Cup additional preliminary round:

F.C. Platinum (Zimbabwe) v ASC Jaraaf (Senegal)

Primerio de Agosto (Angola) v Namungo F.C. (Tanzania)

Al Ahly Benghazi (Libya) v DC Moteme Pemba (DR Congo)

Stade Malien (Mali) v JS Kabylie (Algeria)

AS SONIDEP (Niger) v Coton Sport F.C. (Cameroon)

AS Bouenguidi (Gabon) v Salitas F.C. (Burkina Faso)

The fixtures of the additional second preliminary round will take place on February 14 with the second legs taking place on February 21, with the winners advancing to this season’s group stage.

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