APR v Recreativo de Libolo (Regional)
Sofapaka v Ismaily
Sahel v Club Africain
St. George v Al Merreikh
Young Africans v Lupopo
Mafunzo v Gunners
Vital’O v Tiko United
AS Africa’s premier football club competition kicks off this afternoon, national league champions APR have their hands full as they face Angola’s Recreativo de Libolo at Nyamirambo’s Regional Stadium.
After dominating local football, club fans now want the team to transform that prowess onto the continental scene.
APR walk into the tie on the back of a promising 1-0 victory over Ethiopia’s St.George which has left the team’s head Coach Erik Paske upbeat.
In an interview with Times Sport, the Dutchman said, “We are excited to play against Recreativo. We know that they have a good team but we are prepared for the challenge.”
“We do have our own agenda and hope to go as far as we can in this competition.”
APR’s worry is in defense where they are missing three key players. Didier Kapet and Kalisa Mao are out after failing late fitness tests while the army side’s versatile defender Mbuyu Twite is sidelined for four months after fracturing his ankle.
By press time, APR was also sweating on lead striker Abbas Rassou, who suffered a knock yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, there have been growing reports that Recreativo who jetted in yesterday from Turkey, where they have been camping are fielding a much stronger team than the one which took part in last year’s edition.
The team, which is currently third in Angola’s domestic league, boasts of five Brazilians in Andre Cunha, Serginho, Reginaldo, Gefferson and Juninho not forgetting the experienced Angolan international Paulo José Lopes de Figueiredo, who was outstanding during the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany.
In other fixtures, Ismaily (Egypt) face Sofapaka FC of Kenya, former South African champions Orlando Pirates face their neighbours Gaborone United (Botswana) while three-time winners Raja Club Athletic takes on Fello Star Labe of Guinea in Conakry.
In Addis Ababa, Jimmy Gatete’s St. Georges lock horns with Sudanese giants Al-Merreikh.
Second leg matches are scheduled for the weekend of February 26-28.