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Tsipa happy with draw

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CAPS United striker Leonard Tsipa has welcomed the draw that saw his side pitted against North African football heavyweights including five-time champions Zamalek saying the outcome was better than it could have been.

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

The veteran Caps United forward has not made much contribution to the club this season having been sidelined by injuries.

The 2016 Premier Soccer League Golden Boot winner played only in the opening match against Shabanie Mine where he picked a groin injury eventually missing the four matches the club has played in the campaign so far.

Tsipa also did not play a part in the African Champions League preliminary round as he was not registered for the tournament.

Caps United, who are struggling for goals, have been relying on Abbas Amidu, but with the Champions League beckoning, the Zimbabwean champions are looking to register Tsipa for the prestigious tournament. They have reserved five slots in order to beef up ahead of the start of the group stages of the tournament.

Tsipa is expected to be back to fitness in two weeks.

“I think the draw is better than it could have been. We will just keep working hard as we have been doing. Remember people doubted us against TP Mazembe. We derive our confidence from the hard work and the spirit of togetherness in the team. I believe we can go all the way,” said Tsipa, adding that he was slowly getting to full fitness.

“Gradually, I am almost there in terms of fitness. In two weeks’ time, I think I should be back.”

The Zimbabwean champions were drawn in Group B that also has USM Alger of Algeria and Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya.

If the Green Machine progress to the quarter-finals stage, they will meet a team from Group A, which has Esperance Tunis, El Merrikh, Al Hilal of Sudan and Mozambique’s Ferroviario de Maputo.

The table-toppers of Group A meet the second-placed team from Group B, while Group B winners clash with the team that finishes second in Group A.

Reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns are in Group C together with Saint George, AS Vita, and Tunisian giants Esperance, while Group D comprises of Egypt’s Al Ahly, Wadad Casablanca, Coton Sport and Zambia’s Zanaco.

In USM Alger, Caps face tough opponents, as the Algerians finished runners-up in 2015. The Algerian champions have never won the competition, but could prove to be tough opponents, considering their experience in the tournament in recent years.

Caps, however, feel they can get something from their matches against the Algerians and more so against Al Ahli Tripoli, whose biggest achievement in continental club competitions is getting to the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup last year.

Besides that, the club was knocked out of the Caf Champions League in the first, preliminary and second rounds in 2000, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Caps United will start off their campaign with an away match against Zamalek during the weekend of May 12 to 14, before they host USM Alger on May 24.

The Green Machine will have back-to-back clashes with Al Ahli Tripoli, with the first match set for June 4, and the away match will be played between June 20 and 21.

The Zamalek home match is set for July 2, while Lloyd Chitembwe’s men round off with an away match against USM Alger.

Group A: Etoile du Sahel, Al Hilal, El Merrikh, Ferroviario de Maputo.

Group B: Zamalek, USM Alger, Al Ahli Tripoli, Caps United.

Group C: Sundowns, Esperance Tunis, AS Vita, Saint George.

Group D: Al Ahly, Wydad Casablanca, Coton Sport, Zanaco.

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