Tough draws for Gamecocks, City

HARARE - Zimbabwe champions Chicken Inn were handed a tough 2016 African Champions League preliminary round draw against South African glamour side Mamelodi Sundowns.

The draw was conducted on Friday night by the Confederation of African Football in Dakar, Senegal.

The Gamecocks, who were crowned Zimbabwean champions for the first time at the end of last month, will be at home for the first leg on the weekend of February 12-14 in Bulawayo.

Joey Antipas and his side will then travel for the return leg in Tshwane two weeks later on the weekend of February 26-28.

Getting past Sundowns will not be an easy task as the gamecocks will be facing one of the biggest spenders in African football.
The Brazilians backed by Patrice Motsepe’s billions have one of the biggest and most talented squads in the South African Premiership where they are currently in second place on the log after 11 matches.

There is no doubt, Sundowns, who reached the final of the competition in 2001 before losing to African giants Al Ahly, will start the tie as favourites.

Another handicap for Chicken Inn is the fact the Zimbabwean league runs from March until November and when the first leg arrives next February they will still be rusty from the off-season break.

On the other hand, Sundowns will be approaching the final third of their current season and most of their players will be at their physical peak compared to the Gamecocks players.

If Chicken Inn negotiate this tough preliminary round tie they will meet Congolese champions AC Leopards in the first round.

Leopards, who were in the group stage of the competition in 2013, were given a preliminary round bye due to their recent good performances in the competition.

The Beasts from Niari know their way around African inter-club competitions as evidenced by their triumph in the African Confederation Cup in 2012.

In the event, Chicken Inn  progress past Leopards they will then enter the final qualifying round where they will meet either Mafunzo of Tanzania, DRC’s SC Vita, Mochudi Centre Chiefs from Botswana or Feroviaro of Mozambique.

In the African Confederation Cup, Zimbabwe’s representatives Harare City, who won the Chibuku Super Cup this season, will face Malagasy side AS Adema in the preliminary round.

The Sunshine Boys also start the first leg at home on the weekend of February 12-14 before going to Antananarivo for the second leg on the weekend of February 26-28.

If Taurai Mangwiro’s side get past AS Adema, they will secure a date against Zambian side Zanaco in the first round in March.

From there City will play either Malian side AS Bakaridjan, AS Kaloum Star of Guinea  or Stade Gabesien of Tunisia in the final qualifying round before the group stages of the second tier African inter-club competition.

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