Tusker FC, the Kenyan Premier League champions will play Mauritius side AS Port-Louis in the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League next season.
Tusker will start at home in the two-leg tie and an aggregate win will hand them a ticket to the first round where they will face Sudan’s Al Hilal.
Ulinzi Stars who will represent Kenya in the Confederations Cup by virtue of finishing second in the GOtv Shield will travel north to Libya in the preliminary round where they face Al Ahli Benghazi.
Tusker will be returning to continental football for the first time since 2013 when they lost 4-1 in the first round to eventual champions Al Ahly. This year, they have a closer shot at the group stages with CAF having increased the number of teams in the group stages to 16.
If they beat Al Hilal in the first round, then they will be through to the group stages.
“We have a chance this time round and our minimum target is to play in the group stages. We know it is not easy because both our opponents are champions of their own countries. We have that determination and the players are psyched up to get the target,” James Situma, the Tusker FC captain told Sports News Arena.
Situma vividly remembers his journey in the CAF Confederations Cup with Sofapaka in 2011 when they missed the group stages by a whisker. He hopes this time round he will be luckier to achieve his target.
AS Port Lous, six time champions of the Mauritius League are making a return to continental football for the first time since 2006. Their best performance was in 2003 when they reached the second round.
While Tusker’s journey to the group stages seems short, Ulinzi’s in the Confederation Cup looks more tedious. If they win the two-leg tie against Benghazi, they will meet Egyptian side Smouha in the first round.
A win against the Egyptians who reached the group stages of the Champions League last season will see them qualify for the play-off round. They will be drawn against one of the 16 losers from the Champions League first round. Winners of the tie qualify for the group stages.
“North African opponents are no pushovers and we know we have our work cut out. We are back in training early and working very hard to see if we can get to the group stages. Nothing is impossible,” James Saruni, the Ulinzi skipper said.
Meanwhile, Tusker FC are set to unveil Ugandan George ‘Best’ Nsimbe as the man taking over from Paul Nkata.
“We have had preliminary talks with him and there is some progress. We will have the final round of talks on Thursday afternoon and from there make an announcement,” Charles Obiny, the Tusker FC CEO said.
Sports News Arena has also learnt that Francis Baraza will quit his post at Chemelil Sugar to take over as Nsimbe’s assistant at Ruaraka.
Sports News Arena