SUNDOWNS AND CHIEFS ENTER LION’S DENThomas Kwenaite
By Thomas Kwenaite
Kaizer Chiefs will have to negotiate their way past a tricky programme before they can reach the group stages of the African Champions League while the road has been smoothly paved for Mamelodi Sundowns in their quest to reach the elusive last eight of the premier Pan-African club competition.
Chiefs have a relatively easy tie against Volcano de Moroni from the tiny island of the Comoros in the preliminary tie during January. And if as expected, they will ease past the part-timers some are already dismissing as beach bums, they will meet stronger opposition in the first round.
They are penciled in to face the winner between the champions from CHAD and ASEC Mimosas, the 1995-losing finalist at the hands of Orlando Pirates. Should they be successful, another tricky assignment awaits them in the form of the winner between Onze Creatures (Mali) against Al Hilal of Sudan.
And if you think Al Hilal will a bridge too far for the Amakhosi, then think again because should they pull all the stops and breeze past the Sudanese, eight times African champions Al Ahly, the giants from Cairo, awaits them in the final round before qualification to the group stages.
However, Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns seem to have been handed a much easier ride into the last eight than their South African rivals. They will not be involved in the preliminary round but enter straight in the first round against Chicken Inn from Harare in Zimbabwe.
Chicken Inn won the Zimbabwe championship for the first time in their history and might lack continental experience against the Chloorkop-based outfit. In addition, Mosimane will have the experience of team manager Peter Ndlovu to call on regarding the lay of the land across the border.
He will also have winger Khama Billiat and striker Cuthbert Malajila to call on as the Zimbabwe internationals will most likely lead the attack for Mosimane’s warriors and their experience as well could be too much for Chicken Inn who decided in the eleventh hour to enter the competition.
Mosimane however, will have it all to do in the next round if he succeeds when he comes up against AC Leopards in Dolisie at the cabbage patch field where they gave Orlando Pirates a hectic time during the just ended CAF Confederation Cup but ended up losing 1-0.
Leopards are seasoned campaigners and Sundowns might have a fight on their hands against the team from the Congo Brazzaville. And should they be successful, there awaits anyone from AS Vita (DR Congo), Mochudi Centre Chiefs (Botswana) and Ferroveraio (Mozambique) all good teams but certainly not stronger than Mosimane’s team.