CAF Champions League clubs eye historic triumphs

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By Web Master

Botswana, Kenya, Swaziland, Togo and Uganda could have representatives in the CAF Champions League group stage for the first time after the last-32 second legs this weekend.

Township Rollers of Botswana and Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland play at home holding 2-1 leads while Port of Togo travel with a 2-0 advantage.

KCCA of Uganda and Kenyan side Gor Mahia both drew 0-0 in the first legs with the Kampala outfit at home and the Nairobi club away in the return matches.

AFP Sport sets the scene as the five clubs seek places in the 16-club mini-league phase, where prize money of at least US $550, 000  kicks in.

Malta-born coach Dylan Kerr is convinced Gor can create history despite being held 0-0 at home by two-time Champions League title-holders Esperance of Tunisia.

“I walked up to my players after the first leg and told them that if they perform as well in Tunisia, we will qualify for the group stage,” he said.

Swallows last year became the first Swazi club to reach the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup group phase and more history beckons after shocking Zanaco 2-1 in Zambia.

But home advantage is no guarantee of success as they slumped 3-1 to Lesotho visitors Bantu in the preliminary round having established a 4-2 lead on the road.

After coming tantalisingly close to making the last 16 a year ago, Kampala Capital City Authority are well-placed to go one step further after holding Saint George 0-0 in Ethiopia.

Ugandan coach Mike Mutebi has three wishes: “We must draw a capacity crowd to our stadium, play attractive football and win the match.”

After surprising 2012 CAF Confederation Cup winners AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville last month, Port have a bigger scalp, twice Champions League runners-up Al Hilal of Sudan, in their sights.

Hilal are used to comeback victories, however, as they lost away to LISCR of Liberia last month only to bounce back with a Mohammed Bashir brace inspiring a 3-0 triumph.

Botswana clubs have traditionally been CAF pushovers, making the achievements of Rollers in eliminating Al Merrikh of Sudan and defeating Young Africans in Tanzania remarkable.

Serb coach Nikola Kavazovic is highly ambitious and looking beyond a group place.

“We are on our way to becoming a giant, if not in Africa, at least in Southern Africa.”/AFP SPORTS

 

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