AFRICAN champions TP Mazembe have been given a bye in the first round of the 2011 African Champions League.
In the draw released on Monday by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Mazembe begin their quest for a record third consecutive trophy in the second round.
The Crows will play the winner of the game between Elan Club Mitsoudje from Comoros Islands or Simba Sports Club of Tanzania.
Should Mazembe progress to the third and final elimination round ahead of the lucrative group phase, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco or Kano Pillars of Nigeria are the likeliest opponents.
Mazembe created history in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi last weekend by becoming the first African club to reach the final of the 10-year FIFA Club World Cup.
Inter Milan of Italy proved too strong in the final, winning 3-0 with one of the goals coming from Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon.
Last year the Lubumbashi-based club finished second to last in the competition following a fifth-place loss to Auckland City from New Zealand.
Club owner Moise Katumbi says the team is already plotting a third consecutive African Champions League title.
“We are going to go and prepare our team to win the Champions League a third time,” Katumbi told the BBC.
In other pairings, Esperance of Tunisia, beaten 6-1 over two legs by Mazembe in the African final in November, also received a first-round bye and launch their challenge against ASPAC of Benin or Deportivo Mongomo of Equatorial Guinea.
Record six-time champions Al-Ahly of Egypt meet SuperSport United of South Africa or Matlama of Lesotho, while Cairo neighbours Zamalek tackle Ulinzi Stars of Kenya.