African Champions League set to start on May 13

African Champions League set to start on May 13
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Published May 2nd, 2017 - 15:22 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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The draw took place at the Confederation of African Football's headquarters last mid-week.
The draw took place at the Confederation of African Football's headquarters last mid-week.
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The group phase of the season's African Champions League club football competition is scheduled to begin on May 13, the event organizers announced.

Ethiopian representatives in this big continental competition Saint George are in Group C along with AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Esperance of Tunisia.

The draw took place at the Confederation of African Football's headquarters last mid-week.

This is a new set up introduced for the first time by the continents football governing body, the Confederation of African Football, widely known as CAF.

In the past the lucrative group phase took place among eight elite clubs who go through a long and arduous preliminary stage.

Following the suggestion of the CAF technical committee the group stage was extended to incorporate 16 clubs instead of the traditional eight. The thinking is to give wider opportunities for minnows to compete with the African giants in group stage. This is actually designed to share experience from the strong sides. St. George benefited from this new arrangement in the first year.

St. George reached this stage beating the strong Congo Brazzaville side AC Leopards in the qualifiers. The good thing about this victory is the win over Leopards was completed with consummate ease.

In the first away leg many people including the media outlets had the fear that the home side would concede defeat with wide margin in the hands of Leopards. The fear has justifiable background. Considering Leopards' big name in the continents competition that was a possible conclusion. If that was the case, their reach at this stage would have definitely been jeopardized. But contrary to what was thought, St. George returned home with a narrow 1-0 win.

The advantage of the win gave the Ethiopian representatives big heart for the return leg to easily collect the full three points with a 2-0 win. With an aggregate 3-0 result St. George managed to advance to the group phase.

For St. George this is the second time to reach the group stage in the club's long history of appearance in the continent's big games. The first was their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup group stage. Until now that is a new record for the country's football clubs. This one is another record registered by St. George.

When the draw of the group phase of the year's African Champions League was held last week the group of other 12 clubs were also released.

Accordingly: Group A comprise Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia and the Sudanese sides Al Hilal and Al Merreikh while Group B include USM Alger of Algeria, Zamalek of Egypt, Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya and CAPS United of Zimbabwe. Coton Sport of Cameroon, Al Ahly of Egypt, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Zanaco of Zambia are in Group D.

When one reads the 16 clubs the African football giants Egypt and Tunisia are represented by two teams. Surprisingly enough, countries not known as football nation like Sudan and Mozambique have also two representatives while the football giants Ghana and Nigeria don't have even a single representative. The current African champions Cameroon have one.

Though Ethiopia as a founding member of CAF has one representative, the football progress it has shown has not been that big but participation in this kind of big continental competition is expected to improve its position.

© 2017 AllAfrica Global Media.

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