Leopards face Sudanese giants
BLACK Leopards have been drawn against Sudanese side Al- Merreikh in their 2012 Caf Confederation Cup play-off round.
The team from Omdurman will be a massive test for Lidoda Duvha as they have been regular combatants in African competitions over the last few seasons and played in the group stages of the Caf Champions League in 2009.
They were finalists of the 2007 Caf Confederation Cup, but lost 5-2 on aggregate to Tunisian side CS Sfaxien. They also had nine of their players in the Sudan squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
The club recently appointed Brazilian coach Heron Ricardo Ferreira, but he was unable to steer them back to the pool stages of the Champions League this year.
Instead, they lost 3-1 on aggregate to 2009 and 2010 continental kings TP Mazembe of the DR Congo in the second round, and so have dropped down into the Confederation Cup.
The tie with Leopards will be played over two legs on the weekends of June 29 to July 1 and July 13 to July 15, with the South Africans in Sudan for the first match.
Claiming to be one of the oldest professional football clubs on the continent, Al-Merreikh were formed in 1908. They have won the second most Sudanese Premier League titles with 18 to their name, the last coming in 2011, which is eight less than bitter rivals Al-Hilal.
At least Leopards won't have to worry about the facilities, the Al Merreikh Stadium received a revamp in 2009 and has a superb playing surface. It is also used for Sudan national team matches.
The draw for the group stages of the Caf Champions League was also made yesterday, with Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek pooled together in Group B. They are joined by Berekum Chelsea (Ghana) and TP Mazembe in what is sure to be a fiercely contested pool.
Group A sees defending champions Esperance of Tunisia pooled with Sunshine Stars of Nigeria, ASO Chlef of Algeria and Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel.