Africa Sports of the Ivory Coast, Villa from Uganda and Al Ittihad of Libya are among the top African clubs featuring in the 2016 CAF Confederation Cup preliminary rounds this weekend.
The 17-time Ivorian league winners Africa Sports have won the now rested Africa Cup Winners Cup twice, while Al Ittihad of Tripoli have appeared in the various continental championships since 1967, reaching the semi-finals of the Confederation Cup in 2010.
Al Ittihad have been forced to play their home game on Friday against Sonidep of Niger in neighbouring Tunisia because of the war in Libya.
Two-time African champions Esperance from Tunisia and Morocco’s FUS Rabat have a bye and so will see action from the first round in March.
The second-tier Confederation Cup has been hit by the withdrawal of Gaborone United of Botswana and Wallidan from Gambia, giving JKU of Zanzibar and Mouloudia d’Oran byes.
Ajax Cape Town of South Africa only rescinded a decision to pull out of their match against Angola’s Sagrada Esperanca after they were warned by the South Africa Football Association (SAFA).
Worried about the bad image South Africa has in Africa, SAFA ordered Ajax, who were concerned with internal travels arrangements in Angola, to fly to Angola or they could face some severe sanctions.
Nigeria’s Nasarawa United are back in international football after they last featured in both the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup in 2007.
On Sunday, ‘The Solid Miners’ will welcome Senegalese second division side Generation Foot, who caused a major upset when they beat Casa Sports to win their country’s cup competition and qualify for the Confederation Cup.
“We want a big win, in order to make the second leg an easier session for us,” said Nasarawa United chairman Isaac Danladi.
“We have experienced continental football before when we played in the CAF Champions League some years ago. It is not an entirely strange territory.
“We see this as an opportunity to confirm how much progress Nasarawa United have made over the years.”
Congo’s Diables Noire and V Mokanda are both at home this weekend against Africa Sports and Nigeria cup holders Awka United.
The confidence of Awka United from the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria has been boosted after they won a pre-season tournament that included Nigeria champions Enyimba and Warri Wolves, who will both feature in the CAF Champions League.
They are led by experienced Belgian coach Maurice Cooreman and have improved their squad with several top signings like Jude Aneke, who was top scorer of the Nigeria league four years ago.
Other interesting fixtures include Kawkab Marrakesh (Morocco) v USFA (Burundi), Saint Eloi Lupopo (DR Congo) v Bandari (Kenya) and El Khartoum (Sudan) v Villa (Uganda).
The return leg matches will be played on the weekend of February 26-28 with the overall winners advancing to the round of 32 to be played from March 11 to 13.