SA clubs turn their attention to continental football

08 January 2019 - 15:52 By Mark Gleeson
Phakamani Mahlambi of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Xola Mlambo of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on 10 November 2018.
Phakamani Mahlambi of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Xola Mlambo of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on 10 November 2018.
Image: ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South Africa’s remaining representative in the annual continental club competitions all travel away this weekend for their next matches in both the African Champions League and African Confederation Cup.

Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates begin the group phase of the Champions League while Kaizer Chiefs are in the third round of the Confederation Cup‚ still one round away from the group phase of that competition.

Sundowns‚ who were Champions League winners in 2016‚ are away at Lobi Stars of Nigeria in a tough start to their Group A campaign.

They play at Enugu on Friday‚ kick off at 6pm South African time.

It is the third time they are in Nigeria‚ having lost to Julius Berger 2-0 in the group phase in 2001‚ when they went on to reach the final‚ and two years ago when they lost 3-1 at Enyimba‚ but had already qualified then for the semifinals and went on to win the competition.

Pirates‚ the first South African side to win a continental title some 24 years ago now‚ start Group B away against FC Platinum of Zimbabwe‚ who are newcomers at this level of competition‚ on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

The match is at Barbourfield in Bulawayo where Platinum have been forced to switch the match from their home ground at the Mandava Stadium‚ which is situated in Zvishavane.

It was ruled inadequate for this level of competition by a Confederation of African Football inspection team.

Pirates were last in Zimbabwe 22 years ago when they beat CAPS United 1-0 away in Harare in the first year that the Champions League format was introduced.

Chiefs travel to Ndola in Zambia to take on Zesco United in the first leg of their third round Confederation Cup tie.

Free State Stars were eliminated in the first round of the Confederation Cup by Mukura Victory of Rwanda.

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