New Zimbabwe football champions Motor Action will face Cnaps Sports of Madagascar in the preliminary round of their debut Confederation of African Football (Caf) Orange Champions League when the continental competition kicks off next month.
Perennial campaigners Dynamos have been given a bye into the next round owing to their past performances and will meet the winner between O Real de Bangui of the Central African Republic and Moloudia de Alger of Algeria.
If they progress further, the Zimbabwean giants could have it easy going into the mini-league phase as they will meet El Merrikh or the winner between Interclube of Angola and Township Rollers of Botswana
The preliminary round first leg match takes place on the weekend of January 28-30 at Rufaro since Motor Action Sports Club does not meet the Caf requirements, with the second leg slated for the February 11-13 weekend.
A potentially explosive first- round clash against Ivory Coast giants Asec Mimosas is in store if the Mighty Bulls beat Cnaps and the former African champions defeat ASC SNIM Casando of Mauritania in the preliminary round.
Reacting to the draw last night, Motor Action coach Joey Antipas said: “It’s a tough draw. It’s important for us that we clear the preliminary round hurdle first. In football anything can happen, there is always an element of surprise.
“Madagascar is not one of the big countries in football, but the team will compete as they have qualified. As for Asec, they are one of the ex-powerhouses of football, but it still remains a very tough draw for us.”
Dynamos secretary Oliver Manyau said they were keen to do better than last season, where they finished third in the group stages, missing out on a place in the last four.
“It’s a fair draw; we have already put the past season behind us and are determined to do much better than last season. We should be able to release the provisional list of 25 players for the campaign by the end of this week,” said Manyau.
“We will make sure that we have players on the list that we have spoken to and concluded deals with,” he said.
Last season, Dynamos registered a number of players, including Highlanders defender Zephaniah Ngodzo and Hwange’s Farai Vimisayi before they could negotiate deals with their clubs. Ngodzo’s move failed to materialise while Vimisayi played a few games.
Nine clubs received byes into the first round: ESS of Algeria, Espérance of Tunisia, Al Hilal and Al Ahly of Egypt, Libya’s Ittihad, Stade Malien of Mali, reigning African champions and Club World Cup runners-up TP Mazembe of the DRC and El Merreikh of Sudan.
The draw for the 2011 Caf Interclubs competition was held yesterday at the Caf headquarters in Egypt.
Fifty-five clubs will compete for the Orange Champions League and 52 clubs for the Orange Confederation Cup. The competitions will begin at the end of January.
The Orange Champions League final will be played in November (11, 12, 13) and the Orange Confederation Cup in December (2, 3, 4)