For APR’s Orange CL contest against Club Africain
ERNIE Brandts is a relieved man after receiving a go ahead from African’s Football governing body (Caf) to play his key talisman Victor Nyirenda in today’s Orange Champions League clash against Club Africain of Tunisia at Amahoro Stadium.
The Malawi international was a doubt until last night when Caf confirmed that his red card from last year’s first round clash against eventual champions TP Mazembe had been dropped for the first leg match of the preliminary round.
While the army side has been invincible on the local scene, it has received huge criticism for failing to transform that form onto the big stage but Brandts is desperate to turn things round.
In yesterday’s interview, he said, “we are an offensive team and that will not change against Club Africain. We need a good result here (Kigali) and we shall make sure we get it.”
Brandts has every reason to sound confident after winning his opening nine league games since taking charge of the side in the transfer window.
The Dutchman will however negotiate today’s contest minus Didier Logba (knee injury), Abbas Rassou (ankle injury) and Kipson Atuheire, who is yet to secure his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Club Africain Coach Pierre Lechantre has meanwhile challenged his players to ignore the current political crisis back home and grind out a result.
“Despite what is happening back home, we want to give our best and get a result here (Kigali),” Lechantre told this reporter.
Elsewhere, five-time winners Zamalek of Egypt, Nigeria’s Enyimba, and MC Algers of Algeria begin their campaigns with away clashes against Kenya’s Ulinzi Stars, Saint Michel of Congo and Real de Bangui of Central African Republic respectively.For a competition synonymous with surprises, the giants face uphill tasks in their quest to cement their places amongst the top brass of African club football, against clubs eyeing similar ambitions in the not too distant future.
With off-colour performances in the recent past, the quartet have been afforded yet another opportunity to make a claim for their place on the ladder with their eyes fixed on halting the dominance of DRC outfit, TP Mazembe.Zamalek, who last tasted continental glory in 2002 appear to be on a renaissance backed by stellar performances in the Egyptian league under the technical guidance of former Pharaohs captain Hossam Hassan.
Selected preliminary round ties
APR (Rwanda) vs Club Africain (Tunisia)
Saint Michel (Congo) vs Enyimba (Nigeria)
Ulinzi Stars (Kenya) vs Zamalek (Egypt)
Club Recreativo (Angola) vs Saint George (Ethiopia)
Club Mitsoudjé (Comores) vs Simba SC (Tanzania)
Vital’O (Burundi) vs Coton Sport (Cameroon)
Ocean View (Zanzibar) vs AS Vita (DRC)
Super Sport (South Africa) vs Matlama FC (Lesotho)
Young Buffaloes (Swaziland) vs St. Michel United (Seychelles)
Zesco United (Zambia) vs Liga Desportiva (Mozambique)