fcifeanyiubahNigeria’s Federation Cup champion, FC Ifeanyi Ubah will make its CAF Confederation Cup debut against Al Masry football club of Egypt in Nnewi on Sunday while Wikki Tourists battles Royal Armed Forces football club of Sierra Leone.
Ifeanyi Ubah qualified for the second-tier African club competition after winning the Nigerian equivalent of the FA Cup while Masry which finished fourth in the Egyptian premier league secured a continental competition because cup winners Zamalek qualified for CAF Champions League.
The tie is the pick of a 20-match schedule featuring only two match-ups between regular African competitors. Saint-Michel Elgeco Plus of Madagascar with three previous appearances face four-time Confederation Cup competitors Super Sport United of South Africa. Former Confederation Cup title-holders Moghreb Fes of Morocco, the only other preliminary round entrants with four earlier appearances, host three-time challengers CARA of Congo Brazzaville. Malagasy sides have a woeful recent record in CAF competitions, making South African league leaders Super Sport firm favourites to progress. Fes, winners of the 2011 Confederation Cup but now a Moroccan second division side, are expected to eliminate CARA. The Brazzaville outfit won the African Cup of Champions Clubs — predecessor to the Champions League — in 1973 but are no longer an international force.
Other former African champions in the preliminary round are JS Kabylie and Mouloudia Alger of Algeria. Kabylie goalkeeper Malik Asselah will hope for better luck in the Confederation Cup than the just completed Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. Replacing injured Rais Mbolhi after the first match, Asselah conceded two goals each against Tunisia and Senegal as Algeria became shock first-round casualties. Kabylie have won six African titles, the last in 2002, and should overcome newcomers Monrovia Breweries of Liberia. Mouloudia, who have not gone further than the first round in three previous attempts, face another debutant, Bechem United of Ghana. Record three-time title-holders CS Sfaxien of Tunisia are among 12 clubs who received byes into the round of 32. Like the Champions League, the Confederation Cup will have a new look this season and increased prize money.
The number of qualifying rounds before play-offs against Champions League last-32 losers has been cut to two and the group phase expanded from eight clubs to 16. Prize money has been given a 170 percent boost, including $1.25 million (1.17 million euros) for the winners and $275,000 for the lowest-placed group finishers.
CAF Confedration Cup fixtures

Club Breweries (Liberia) Vs JS Kabylie (Algeria)
Etoile du Congo (Congo) Vs Racing de Micomiseng (Eq Guinea)
FC IfeanyiUbah (Nigeria) Vs Al Masry (Egypt)
Defence FC (Ethiopia) Vs Academy de Bamenda (Cameroon)
AS Douanes (Niger) Vs Ittihad de Tanger (Morocco)
Elgeco Plus (Madagascar) vs SuperSport United (South Africa)
Akanda FC (Gabon) Vs Renaissance du Congo (DRC)
Bechem United (Ghana) Vs Mouloudia D’Alger (Algeria)
Royal Armed Forces (Sierra Leone) Vs Wikki Tourists (Nigeria)
Platinum Stars (South Africa) Vs Desportiva Songo (Mozambique)
Vipers SC (Uganda) Vs Volcan de Moroni (Comoros)
Orapa United (Botswana) Vs Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)
KVZ (Zanzibar) Vs Messager de Ngozi (Burundi)
Apejes de Mfou (Cameroon) Vs Tally de Dakar (Senegal)
Al Salam Wau (South Sudan) Vs Rayon Sports (Rwanda)
AS Sonabel (BFA) Vs SC de Gagnoa (CIV)
MAS de Fes (Morocco) Vs CAR Aiglons (Congo)
Pamplemousses SC (Mauritius) Vs Ngezi Platinum Stars (Zimbabwe)
Al Hilal Elobied (Sudan) Vs St Michel United (Seychelles)
El Hilal (Libya) Vs Ulinzi Stars (Kenya).

By Olisemeka Obeche

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