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The African Champions League will begin this weekend as a group stage featuring 16 teams kicks off, AOIFootball.com reports.

There are five matches on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday, with seven previous champions in action.

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa continue the defence of their title on Sunday as they host Ethiopia’s Saint George.

Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane, says fixture fatigue could threaten their hopes.

Last year they became just the second South African winners of Africa’s top club competition, beating Zamalek of Egypt 3-1 on aggregate in the final.

Mosimane, who played for and coached South Africa, says a fixture pile-up could affect his team.

“The Saint George players are sitting in the stand, resting and watching us,” he said after a midweek domestic match in Pretoria.

“It is not easy fighting on the South African and African fronts. We are playing every three days or so and injuries and suspensions can wreck plans.

The 52-year-old also accepts his side Sundowns have lost the element of surprise they enjoyed last year.

“That advantage has gone. Rivals clubs know who we are now and watch us on TV,” he conceded.

“But we are more experienced than last year, have greater quality and depth in our squad, and know what Champions League football is all about.”

Saint George, the first club from Ethiopia to make the group phase, won all four of their qualifiers and five-goal Saladin Said is the leading Champions League scorer this season.

Elsewhere, Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel, who are the only club to have won all five present and past continental club competitions, should be too strong for Ferroviario Beira.

The Mozambican club was formed 93 years ago but are competing in the Champions League for the first time.

Eight-time winners, Al Ahly of Egypt will be wary of Zanaco having come unstuck against another Zambian club, Zesco United, in the group stage last year, dropping five points.

Another Egyptian side Zamalek, who are five-time winners, host CAPS United of Zimbabwe, whose elimination of former winners, TP Mazembe of DR Congo was the shock of the qualifying phase.

The Cairo club are notorious for firing coaches and the latest man at the helm, Portuguese Augusto Inacio, says he will not tolerate interference.

“I will not accept anyone taking decisions for me,” he stressed.

 

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Group A

Etoile du Sahel vs Ferroviario Beira (Friday)

Al Hilal vs Al Merreikh (Friday)

Group B

USM Alger vs Al Ahly Tripoli (Friday)

Zamalek vs CAPS Utd (Friday)

GROUP C

Esperance vs AS Vita Club (Friday)

Mamelodi Sundowns vs St George (Saturday)

GROUP D

Al Ahly vs Zanaco (Saturday)

Wydad Casablanca vs Coton Sport (Sunday)

 

 

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Copyright 2017 AOIFootball. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.AOIFootball.com as the source.

Follow us on twitter @TheAOIFootball and on Facebook

Copyright 2017 AOIFootball. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.AOIFootball.com as the source.

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