Boring! Boring! This might have been the echo that rang last night in both North and Southern Africa amongst coaches, players and fans of both Mamemlodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca were again paired to face each other in the 2019/2020 CAF Champions League group stages.
There are some other interesting match ups but Sundowns being pitted against the Moroccan nemesis from Casablanca for the fourth consecutive season is truly speaking monotonous.
Sundowns, sole South African representatives in the elite African club competition after Orlando Pirates fell by the wayside in the penultimate stages of the competition have been involved in an ongoing Champions League battle with Wydad since 2017.
The two clubs who by now should be sick of the sight of each other have been drawn in the same group, Group C of the 2019/20 Cup.
On the other hand, holders Esperance compete in Group D with north African rivals JS Kabylie (Algeria) and Raja Casablanca, as well as AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Egyptian giants Al Ahly are top seeds in Group B, where they face Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, Al Hilal of Sudan and Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum.
Group A sees two southern African sides, Primeiro Agosto of Angola and Zambia’s Zesco United, against TP Mazembe of DR Congo and most likely Zamalek of Egypt, who must still complete their second-round tie against Generation Foot of Senegal.
The group phase begins late next month with six rounds of matches – three home and three away – through until March.
The top two in the group‚ as is customary‚ then advance to the quarterfinals‚ which are in April.
For the first time next year‚ there will be a single final rather than a two-legged affair as CAF again copies the prestigious UEFA Champions League formula.
Champions League group participants are guaranteed USS550,000 (500,000 Euros) while the champions will become US$2.5 million richer.
Group A: Primeiro de Agosto, TP Mazembe, Zamalek/Génération Foot, ZESCO United
Group B: Étoile du Sahel, Al-Hilal, FC Platinum, Al-Ahly
Group C: USM Alger, Mamelodi Sundowns, Petro de Luanda, Wydad Casablanca
Group D: Raja Casablanca, JS Kabylie, AS Vita Club, Espérance de Tunis
By Gerald Dandah