AC Leopards vs Etincelles-Pointe Noire
AFTER two decades off the African football radar, Etincelles make their long awaited return this afternoon with a tough Orange Confederation Cup match against Congo Brazzaville’s AC Leopards this afternoon.
The first leg match of the preliminary round will be played in Pointe Noire, Congo Brazzaville’s second largest city.
In 1989, Etincelles made a cameo appearance in the competition after beating Burundi’s Vital’O in the preliminary round but then losing out to DRC’s Kalamo 1-0 in the first round but Etincelles coach Abdu Bizimana wants to go a step further this time.
“We are playing tough opponents in AC Leopards but this is a great opportunity for us to make an impact in the tournament,” he said, before conceding, “We are underdogs but we want to use that to our advantage because we don’t have so much pressure on us.”
“We want to get a result. A win would be great but a draw would still be a good result for us,” added Bizimana.
Etincelles have Atraco to thank for reaching this far. Towards the end of last season, Atraco withdrew from the league prompting the Western province side to rise up to second spot consequently earning that automatic ticket to the competition.
However, the side has struggled to rediscover last season’s form after picking 15 points from a possible 27 in the opening nine games of the Primus National Football league (PNFL).
In other preliminary round clashes, DRC giants Motema Pembe visit popular tourist destination Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast for a fixture against KMKM, a team who have competed regularly at this level with minimal success.
Wits University of South Africa, back in the competition after a six-year absence takes on Saint Marienne in Reunion.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are great football rivals and the clash between Bulawayo-based sides Highlanders and Nchanga Rangers from the Copper belt stands out as one of the most intriguing ties of the day.
Clubs receiving byes into the second round include former African champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, Ismailia of Egypt, JS Kabylie of Algeria and FUS Rabat, who face TP Mazembe in today’s African Super Cup.