The group stages of the CAF Champions League gets underway this week with the Confederation of African Football lining up eight mouth-watering clashes spread across the continent.
In Group A, Lubumbashi giants TP Mazembe who have been celebrating their 80th anniversary with a colourful week culminating with a visit by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the team hosts a troubled Zamalek at their Kamalondo stronghold on Saturday.
The two African giants have met more times that they care to remember, but the White Knights will sharply remember the last five clashes in which they lost four and the fifth has ended in a draw.
The match also comes at a time when the Cairo side is under siege, particularly their mentor Milutin Sredojevic, better known as “Micho” who has received the worst insults imaginable from their followers following an uncharacteristic 2-1 loss to ENPPI in a domestic league match last week.
A wave of disparaging insults have followed the former Orlando Pirates coach or “Serbian Wolf” who finds himself left with nothing else but victory to salvage his pride against a team that hardly ever loses at their Lubumbashi venue situated in Kamalondo.
But it will not the that easy for Zamalek who comes up against a side buoyed by the return of their boss – Moise Katumbi – who spent close to three years in political exile after the previous country’s leader allegedly threatened to jail and even assassinate him.
Mazembe suffered immeasurable harm to their reputation as they lost several key players that left to join European clubs, but they have retained the core of the team including veteran Rainford Kalaba and Tresor Mputu who will no doubt make Micho’s life very difficult.
In the other Group match, Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto hosts crack Zambian side Zesco United in Luanda.