Zambian rookies NAPSA Stars were drawn into the same African Confederation Cup group with holders Renaissance Berkane of Morocco in a tough baptism of fire for the newcomers.
Stars, who overcame Gor Mahia of Kenya 3-2 on aggregate in third knockout round to book their place in the group stage, must also overcome two other experienced continental campaigners – JS Kabylie from Algeria and Cameroon’s Coton Sport – if they are to grab a top two finish and advance to the quarter-finals
Compatriots Nkana FC, who qualified at the expense of Tihad Casablanca of Morocco, will be going back to the north African city after being drawn in Group D with favourite Raja Casablanca as well as Pyramids FC of Egypt, who were runners-up in last season’s competition, and Namungo of Tanzania.
South Africans Orlando Pirates face potential travel uncertainty after being placed in Pool A with Enyimba of Nigeria, Algerian side Entente Setif and Al Ahli Benghazi from Libya. It is possible they will not play in either Algeria or Nigeria, who have over the last six weeks stopped South African clubs from traveling to their countries for fears over a spread of the novel coronavirus.
Pirates are due to travel to Algeria to face Setif in their pool opener on March 10, but no visitors from South Africa are allowed to enter the North African country at this stage.
It means Mamelodi Sundowns will play their African Champions League game against Algerian side Chabab Belouizdad in neutral Tanzania on Sunday.
Nigerian authorities have also barred South Africans from entering the country without strict quarantine measures, which lead to
Bloemfontein Celtic playing their away Confederation Cup tie against Rivers United in neighbouring Benin.
Ahli Benghazi have for years played their home matches in neighbouring countries due to the unstable security environment in Libya at the moment. Their tie against Motembe Pembe in the last round was in Morocco, another ’no-go’ nation for South Africans but they also use Egypt or Tunisia.
Group stage draw
Entente Setif (Algeria)
Al Ahli Benghazi (Libya)
Renaissance Berkane (Morocco)
JS Kabyile (Algeria)
Coton Sport (Cameroon)
NAPSA Stars (Zambia)
Etoile Sahel (Tunisia)
Diaraf Dakar (Senegal)
CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
Salitas (Burkina Faso)
Raja Casablanca (Morocco)
Pyramids FC (Egypt)
Nkana FC (Zambia)