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CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – KNOCKOUT ELIMINATORS TO BE SETTLED THIS WEEKEND

The CAF Champions League’s new 16-team group stage line-up will be confirmed when the first round ties are completed with second-leg matches played across Africa this weekend.

First up on Friday afternoon we will see title holders Mamelodi Sundowns take a precarious 2-1 lead to Uganda to face KCCA. With an away goal behind their name, the East Africans are confident that they can claim a major scalp and bring the South African side’s reign to a premature end.

Saturday sees Cameroon’s Coton Sport take a slender 1-0 lead to Madagascar side CNaPS, while the match between Zanaco and Young Africans is set to be a thriller, with the teams drawing 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam last weekend.

Nigeria’s Rivers United will be confident of holding onto their 3-0 lead when they face Sudan’s Al Merrikh in Omdurman, while North African sides Wydad Casablanca, USM Alger and Al Ahly Tripoli all hold first leg leads for their return games against CF Mounana, Rail Club Kadiogo and FUS Rabat respectively.

Sunday is the busiest day of the weekend, with no less than nine matches. The likes of Etoile du Sahle, Al Hilal, Zamalek and Esperance de Tunis will travel away with strong leads under their belts, while Ethiopia’s Saint George have a 1-0 advantage ahead of hosting Congo’s AC Leopards.

A lot of attention will be focused on two major heavyweights, who face tough trips to Southern Africa. Eight-time champions Al Ahly head to Johannesburg with a narrow 1-0 lead and will expect a barrage from ambitious opponents Bidvest Wits.

The same can be said for DR Congo giants TP Mazembe, who only managed a 1-1 draw in Lubumbashi against Zimbabwe’s CAPS United. The return leg in Harare will be a severe test for the five-time tournament champions.

The 16 aggregate winners will advance into the group stage (where they will be divided up into four groups of four, with round-robin matches played from May to July), while the 16 losers will ‘drop’ into the Confederation Cup playoff round.

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