While Esperance and Wydad Casablanca still bicker over who is winner of the last edition of the African Champions League, the campaign to find the 2020 winner gets underway, today.
Last season’s finalists are still embroiled in a boardroom dispute over the identity of the 2019 winner and are not involved in the first round after being handed a bye into the next round.
So, too TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo but for the rest a stellar cast of competitors, including 11 former champions, begin their bid for glory this weekend.
Record winners Al Ahly of Egypt have been handed two ‘home’ matches against Atlabara of South Sudan, where a lack of facilities means they have to forfeit home advantage.
Sunday’s match at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria is actually Atlabara’s home game but they have asked the Egyptians to host the game there and then they will return in a fortnight and play again at the same venue.
It will be the same for Zamalek, when they take on Somali club Dekadaha at the Petrojet Stadium in Cairo onSunfaya and then host them again in two weeks.
It is the first time in 30 years that a Somali club participates in African club competition.
JS Kabylie of Algeria, who have won Africa’s top club prize twice, have a potentially difficult start against Al Merreikh of Sudan in Bejaia on Friday but French-born coach Hubert Velud said last week he was already confident he knew 90 percent of the composition of his team, even though they are yet to begin domestic competition.
USM Alger must do without four key players, who were not registered in time, for their meeting in Niamey with Niger’s champions AS SONIDEP.
The absence of Hichem Belkaroui, Karim Benkhalifa, Mohamed Benkhemassa and Adem Redjhimi presents a problem for coach Bilel Dziri, who will be ken to minimize their absence and play a conservative game.
South Africa’s Orlando Pirates will be seeking to redress the disappointment of going out in last season’s group stage and have an improved squad to take to Zambian rookies Green Eagles in Lusaka on Saturday.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevich is promising that after two seasons without bagging any silverware, he will now start to deliver: “People could speak this or that, we will just say visible trophies are around the corner. Invisible trophies that we’ve succeeded in is that we lifted our criteria and standards of our team,” he said.
Three-time winners Raja Casablanca travellde to the Gambia on Tuesday where they begin their title bid under 49-year-old Frenchman Patrice Carteron, who previously won the Champions League with TP Mazembe but was fired by Al Ahly of Egypt when they lost in the 2018 final to Esperance.
It has been almost four decades since Asante Kotoko last won the prize and they begin away at Nigeria’s Kano Pillars on Saturday.
“I’m very excited because this is what we all lived for, this is the real thing and we are going to give our all and hopefully it will be enough to bring home good result,” said Kotoko coach Kjetil Zachariassen. The Norwegian has only been in the job for a month.
Nigeria’s other representatives Enyimba begin away at Rahimo of Burkina Faso, who are based in Bobo-Dioulasso and won their first national title in May. In fact, they completed the double by beating AS Sonabel 3-2 in the cup final.
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino last Thursday, in Abuja, revealed how Nigeria can be made a destination for top Grade A football matches and FIFA competitions.
Infantino gave the insight when the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare took him on a tour of the renovated main bowl of the MoshoodAbiola National Stadium.
The FIFA boss, who was visibly happy with the re-grassed pitch at the stadium, said well-maintained stadia with good pitches were key to hosting grade A matches.
He said FIFA was ready to work more closely with Nigeria to develop the game and host more grade A matches in the country.
“We (FIFA) have to make sure when a country, when a government with the President, the minister and private persons are investing in football, in stadia, we work with them to give something back.
“It’s obvious that stadiums like this (MoshoodAbiola stadium) and others in Nigeria deserve the best quality games.
“They deserve top national team games, top club games and it’s not just about Nigerian football or African football, it’s about global football.
“We are working together to see what kind of new opportunities, competitions we can bring for men and women to fill this stadium and make the heart of the stadium beat for the fantastic spectacle that all of the Nigerian love, which is football,” he said.
Earlier, the minister said the Federal Government will continue to invest in sports development and facilities.
Tidesports source reports that the FIFA President, in the company of the minister, had earlier visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Statehouse, as part of his engagement.
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
Former Nigerian goal keeper, Andrew Aikhomogbe has called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to resolve every outstanding salaries and bonuses owed to the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr before the next World Cup qualifiers against Central Africa Republic (CAR).
Aikhomogbe made this known on the backdrop of the football body’s recent deal with Baba Ijebu.
Although the financial details of the deal was not disclosed, Aikhomogbe in an interview with Newsmen from his base in Cairo, Egypt, stated that the NFF should use this platform to offset Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“It’s a big delight to know that the Nigeria Football Federation have signed a deal with Baba Ijebu and this will serve as an opportunity for them to use part of the money to pay Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“There is no better time to motivate him than now before Nigeria’s next 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic (CAR) on October,” he said.
Enyimba Players Vow To Support Finidi
Enyimba FC Goalkeeper, John Noble has stated that the players of the People’s Elephants will be key to the success of the newly appointed coach of the team, Finidi George.
Finidi, signed a two-year deal with Enyimba and oversaw his first full training session with the team on Thursday after a cameo appearance on Wednesday.
Speaking in a chat with Tidesports source, Noble gave his assessment of the coach in his first session under the manager and believes the former Super Eagles winger has what it takes to lead the team to the next level.
He added that the Enyimba players will be the ones to hand Finidi George his success at the club.
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