The Champions League returns this Friday, September 10, with the 22 first round matches. The challenge is to catch up with the competition's big guns, such as Al Ahly, winners of the previous edition, in the next round. Clubs such as Maniema (DR Congo), Fovu de Baham (Cameroon) and Senegalese Teungueth FC will try to repeat the feat of the last edition by reaching the group stages for a second time in a row. Overview of the first round matches scheduled from 10 to 12 September (first leg) and from 17 to 19 September (second leg).
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League kicks off on Friday 10 September. The forces at work: novices dreaming of taking on the continent's giants and outsiders who have the ambition to create a sensation by reaching the final stages. A dream line-up with clubs from several African countries on deck for the first round of qualifying for the group stage.
This first round promises to be a great battle. There are confrontations between clubs used to the continental scene in recent seasons. This is particularly true of the match between Young Africans (Tanzania) and Rivers United (Nigeria) on Sunday 12 September. Teungueth FC of Senegal, who qualified for the group stage last season in their first ever campaign, will have a gala first round clash with ASEC Mimosas of Côte d'Ivoire on Saturday 11 September. On the same day, Benin's ESAE will face Mauritania's Nouadhibou.
Other balanced matches will be scrutinized as AS Sonabel (Burkina Faso) - Stade Malien (Mali), Bouenguidi (Gabon) - Maniema Union (DRC) or the "PSG" of Africa, Arta/Solar 7 which faces Tusker FC of Kenya. The Djibouti club recently acquired Burkina Faso international Alain Traore. The Stallions' number 10 joins former Cameroon internationals Alex Song, Dany Nonkeu and Idriss Carlos Kameni and former West Ham player Diafra Sakho of Senegal.
No room for error for the favorites
Of these 22 first round fixtures, other matches seem less balanced. Ghana's Hearts of Oak should get past Guinea's Club Industriel de Kamsar. The same goes for Amazulu (South Africa) who will face Nyasa Big Bullets (Malawi), Al Hilal (Sudan) against Fasil Kenema SC (Ethiopia), Belouizdad against Akwa United and Atletico Petroleos (Angola) against Fovu de Baham (Cameroon).
Congo's Association Sportiva de Otoho should also reach the second round in their duel with Mozambique's Uniao Desportiva. As well as the Algerian club Setif who will face Fortune FC of Gambia. Other teams who have already made it to the last round include FC Platinum (Zimbabwe) who will face FC Sagrada Esperança (Angola), Zesco (Zambia) who will face Royal Leopards (Eswatini), Al Merrikh (Sudan) who will face Express SC (Uganda) and Zanaco FC (Zambia) who will face Akonangui FC (Guinea).
The other matches that complete this first round are Jwaneng Galaxy (Botswana) against DFC 8ème Arrondissement (CAR), the Somali club Mogadishu City Club against APR FC of Rwanda. There will also be duels between KMKM SC of Tanzania and Al Ittihad of Libya, US Gendarmerie Nationale of Niger against Le Messager Ngozi of Burundi and finally LPRC Oilers of Liberia against Asko Kara of Togo.
Weekend fixtures CAF Champions League (1ST ROUND)
Friday 10 September 2021
Express SC (Uganda) v Al Merrikh (Sudan)
Amazulu FC (South Africa) v Nyasa Big Bullets FC (Malawi)
Saturday 11 September 2021
Club Industriel de Kamsar (Guinea) v Hearts of Oak (Ghana)
AS Sonabel (Burkina Faso) v Stade Malien (Mali)
US Gendarmerie Nationale (Niger) v Le Messager de Ngozi FC (Burundi)
KMKM SC (Tanzania) v Al Ittihad (Libya)
AS Arta Solar 7 (Djibouti) v Tusker FC (Kenya)
Bouenguidi Sports (Gabon) v AS Maniema Union (DRC)
Jwaneng Galaxy (Botswana) v DFC 8ème Arrondissement (Central African Republic)
Teungueth (Senegal) v ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast)
Uniao Desportiva Do Songo (Mozambique) - Association Sportive Otoho (Congo)
Esae FC (Benin) v FC Nouadhibou (Mauritania)
Fortune FC (Gambia) v ES Setif (Algeria)
FC Sagrada Esperança (Angola) v FC Platinium (Zimbabwe)
Royal Leopards (Eswatini) v Zesco United FC (Zambia)
Sunday 12 September 2021
Fasil Kenema SC (Ethiopia) v Al Hilal (Sudan)
Mogadishu City Club (Somalia) v APR FC (Rwanda)
Young Africans (Tanzania) v Rivers United (Nigeria)
Akwa United (Nigeria) v CR Belouizdad (Algeria)
Akonangui FC (Equatorial Guinea) v Zanaco FC (Zambia)
Fovu de Baham (Cameroon) v Atletico Petroleos (Angola)
LPRC Oilers (Liberia) v Asko de Kara (Togo)