Football: African Club competitions draw-St Michel, Anse Reunion paired against Kenyan opposition


13-December-2012

Anse Reunion players celebrating their win against Petite Rivière Noire FC of Mauritius in 2008

League champions St Michel and Land Marine Cup winners Anse Reunion have daunting preliminary round encounters against Kenyan clubs Tusker and Gor Mahia on their return to African club football.

Severed from African club football for a second time in three years after St Michel decided not to take part in this year’s Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League, Seychellois football fans will as of February next year renew with the joy of seeing players of some of the continent’s best clubs display their skills on the Astroturf pitch of Stad Linite.

St Michel have been drawn against Tusker in the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League and will play hosts to Kenyan league champions during the weekend of February 15-17, 2013 before travelling to Nairobi for the return leg encounter a fortnight later (March 1-3, 2013).

If they prevail against Kenya Premier League champions Tusker, St Michel will earn the right to face Cairo giants and seven-time Caf Champions League winners Al Ahly in the first round. Al Ahly, who defied all odds to edge Esperance 3-2 over two legs to win a record-stretching seventh premier African club competition title, are representing Africa at the ongoing Fifa Club World Cup in Japan where they have reached the semifinals against Brazilian side Corinthians – the competition’s inaugural winners in 2000. The match was to be played yesterday in the Toyota stadium in Japan.

Taking part in the Fifa Club World Cup for the fourth time, Al Ahly beat Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 in the quarterfinal to make the semis.

The powerful 56-club field chasing the US $1.5 million first prize in the Caf Champions League includes a number of former winners of other Caf titles – Al Ahly of Egypt, Esperance of Tunisia, TP Mazembe of DR Congo, Zamalek of Egypt, Vita Club of DR Congo, Entente Setif of Algeria, Union Douala of Cameroon, Asante Kotoko of Ghana, Orlando Pirates of South Africa, CA Bizertin of Tunisia, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, FUS Rabat of Morocco, Al Merreikh of Sudan and Horoya of Guinea.

St Michel, who have gone past the first hurdle seven times in 13 years since their continental debut in 1997, played against the Red Devils of Cairo-based Ah Ahly in the African Champions League in 2001, losing the two-legged second round encounter 0-6 (0-5 away defeat and 0-1 home defeat) after having eliminated AS Fortior of Madagascar 3-1 (0-0 away draw and 3-1 home win) and AS Marsouins of Reunion on the away goals rule after a 4-4 draw (2-3 away loss and 2-1 home win) in the preliminary and first rounds.

St Michel players Allen Larue (right), Nelson Sopha and Henny Dufresne pictured here against Young Buffaloes of Swaziland in 2011

Land Marine Cup winners after edging Côte d’Or 3-2 in last month’s final, Anse Reunion will meet Gor Mahia in the preliminary round of the Caf Confederation Cup.

The La Digue-based team will travel to Kenya for the first leg encounter on the weekend of February 15-17, 2013 before playing the return leg at Stad Linite on the weekend of March 1-3, 2013.

A win on aggregate score will see Anse Reunion play Engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries (Enppi FC) of Egypt, who have been given a bye, in the first round of the competition in mid-March and April.

Winners of the now disbanded Africa Cup Winners' Cup in 1987, Gor Mahia beat Sofapaka 3-0 in post-match penalties after a barren draw at the Nyayo National stadium, Nairobi to lift the FKF Cup and book their tickets to the Caf Confederation Cup tournament.

This will be Anse Reunion’s fourth appearance in an African club competition and their last outing dates back to 2008 and in the same African Confederations Cup.

They beat Petite Rivière Noire FC of Mauritius 2-1 on aggregate score (2-1 home win and 0-0 away draw) in the preliminary round before bowing out against South African outfit Ajax cape Town 1-5 on aggregate score (0-1 away defeat and 1-4 home defeat) in the first round.

Anse Reunion are not new to Kenyan football as they played the defunct Kenya Pipeline in 2003 losing the first round Africa Cup Winners Cup fixture 9-8 on post-match penalties.

Pipeline won the first leg 2-1 in Nairobi with Reunion winning by a similar margin in the return leg played at Stad Linite for a 3-3 aggregate score.

Speaking to Goal.com, Gor Mahia assistant coach John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla welcomed the draw. “We want to go far in this competition and our immediate plan is to sign quality players who will be able to compete at the highest level. To me I think that is a very kind draw for both Tusker and Gor Mahia,” said Ogolla.

Both Tusker and Gor Mahia exited last year’s competitions in the preliminary stage.

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What the teams’ representatives said:

Brian Uranie, St Michel technical director
“We are satisfied with the draw although we know that Kenyan football has improved over the last few years. We wanted to bring in some new players including a foreigner to bolster our team, especially now that we will be playing in the Caf Champions League, but unfortunately time is not in our side as the registration deadline is Saturday December 15. If not, we will have to stick to the same group of players but some are injured while others have still not taken a break as they are playing with the national team.

“There are speculations that coach Vivian Bothe will not be with the team next year, although he has not come forward with his resignation. Defender Nigel Freminot has also expressed his wish to leave the team and finding a replacement will take us some time.”

Pierre Barbé, Anse Reunion manager
“Gor Mahia are tough opponents, but we cannot change the draw. We are to meet this afternoon (yesterday afternoon) to decide how we will prepare for the encounter although we have been meeting twice a week – Monday and Wednesday – after winning the Land Marine Cup.

“We are not going to recruit new players for the African adventure as it is too late now. The deadline to register our players for the competition is Saturday December 15.”

 

G. G.

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