PSL clubs begin CAF mission

Steve Komphela plans to leave a strong legacy at Kaizer Chiefs. PHOTO: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images
Steve Komphela plans to leave a strong legacy at Kaizer Chiefs. PHOTO: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Cape Town - Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Ajax Cape Town and Bidvest Wits all begin their CAF excursions this weekend, all four playing away from home.

The return legs will take place in a fortnight's time, on the weekend of 26-28 February.

Defending PSL champions Kaizer Chiefs start their quest for a first ever CAF Champions League crown with a match in the Comoros against the island nations' champions, Volcan Club de Moroni, on Sunday afternoon. Kick-off is at 15:00 (SA time).

The Comoros team's biggest weapon could be the fact that Kaizer Chiefs will know very little about them, Volcan Club having made only one previous appearance in continental competition, when they crashed out of the Confederation Cup at the first round stage last year.

For a club of Chiefs' size, the most popular and best supported team in South Africa, the fact that they have never won the Champions League, while bitter rivals Orlando Pirates have (in 1995), will be a sore point, and something they will be determined to put right; it's likely that AmaKhosi will be taking this tie very seriously despite the minnow nature of the opposition.

South Africa's other competitors in the Champions League are Mamelodi Sundowns, who finished in second spot last season in the league, but are currently leading the standings and are very much South Africa's form team at the moment, enjoying a nine point gap at the top of the table.

Sundowns, who were losing Champions League finalists in 2001, make the relatively short trip to Zimbabwe, for Saturday's showdown with Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League champions, Chicken Inn, at the Luveve Stadium, Bulawayo. Kick-off is at 15:00 (SA time). This will be the Zimbabwean side's first foray into Africa, the Gamecocks having beaten traditional powerhouses Dynamos to last year's league title.

Ajax Cape Town meanwhile are set to take part in their fourth continental campaign, and a first in seven years; the last time they competed in Africa, they were knocked out in the first round of the Champions League in 2009.

The Urban Warriors will be competing in the Confederation Cup this time, and face a tricky trip to Angola to play Sagrada Esperança on Saturday afternoon. Kick-off is at 15:00 (SA time).

The Urban Warriors' participation had been in doubt, the club having initially pulled out of the competition as they felt that their safety was not guaranteed. But having been reprimanded by the South African Football Association (SAFA) and threatened to have been expelled from the league, Ajax are now set to make the long journey to the north eastern corner Angola to face opponents they will know very little about.

Also involved in the Confederation Cup are Bidvest Wits, whose coach Gavin Hunt has several continental campaigns under his belt. The Clever Boys, who finished third in the league last season, have a more pleasurable trip ahead than Ajax, as they travel to the Seychelles to play Lightstars FC, at the Amitie Stadium. Kick-off is at 16:00 (SA time) on Saturday.

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