DeMbare face Lesotho outfit

HARARE - Zimbabwe champions Dynamos have been drawn to play Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) in the preliminary round of the 2013 African Champions League, but face a difficult path to reach the mini-league stage.

The 19 times Zimbabwe champions will host the Basotho side at home for the first leg on the weekend of February 15-17, according to the draw released by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) yesterday.

The Glamour Boys will then travel to Maseru for the second leg on the weekend of March 1-3.

Calisto Pasuwa’s men will be playing in the preliminary round for the first time in two years following their recent failure to reach the mini-league stage.

Dynamos will be expected to get past LCS, who are an unknown quantity when it comes to continental club football.

This will be the Lesotho side’s second appearance in the continent’s premier club football tournament. The four-time Lesotho champions first participated in the competition this year.

LCS failed to last the distance after they lost 3-0 on aggregate to Uganda Revenue Authority in the preliminary round.

If Dynamos get past LCS as largely expected, their first real test will come in the first round, where they will meet either reigning Libyan champions Al-Ittihad or Tunisia outfit CA Bizertin, who were runners up to Esperance in North African country last season.

Dynamos have generally struggled against North African opposition, making their first round clash with either of the two a tricky encounter.

It is in the second and final qualifying round where the real business of the competition starts. If Dynamos were to get there, they are likely to face reigning champions Al Ahly.

The record-seven time African champions Ahly have been handed a preliminary round bye so will only the competition in the first round.

The Red Devils will meet either St Michel of Seychelles or Kenyan outfit Tusker.  

Odds will be heavily staked in the Egyptian giants to make light work of whoever they will play in the first round.

Dynamos and Ahly share a history, with their most recent meeting coming in the African Champions League group stages in 2008.

Ahly first beat Dynamos 2-1 in Cairo in August of that year before completing the double with a 1-0 victory at Rufaro Stadium in Harare two weeks later.

Dynamos will be looking forward to making an impression in the Champions League next year after two previous early rounds exits.

The Glamour Boys last reached the mini-league stage of Africa’s premier club competition in 2010 when they finished bottom of their group.

In 2011, then under Lloyd Mutasa, Dynamos were dumped in the final qualifying round by Algerian side MC Algiers.

Dynamos won the first 4-1 at Rufaro Stadium but capitulated in the second leg in Algiers.

DeMbare squared the three-goal lead after going down 3-0 to Algiers to exit the competition.

Earlier this year, Dynamos bowed out of the competition at the same stage at the hands of then then reigning champions Esperance of Tunisia.

DeMbare put up one of their worst performances on the continent and were convincingly beaten 6-0 in the first leg in Tunisia by a Youssef Msakni-inspired Esperance at Tunis’ Rades Stadium.

The second leg in Harare was a mere formality as Dynamos needed to pull off one of the most daring escapes by winning 6-0 or better to progress.

In the end, Esperance held Dynamos to a 1-1 draw to relegate the Zimbabwean side into the Africa Confederation Cup, where they were duly eliminated by Angolan side Interclube.

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