Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Monday, December 19, 2016

All eyes on CAF Champions League draw

Lioli will know their CAF Champions League fate on Wednesday
All eyes this week will be on Wednesday’s 2017 CAF Champions League draw. The draw will reveal Lioli’s path to the group stage of Africa’s premier club competition.

Tse Nala will be hoping for a good draw because this year two wins would be enough to reach the lucrative group stage as a result of changes to the tournament’s format.

From 2017, the Champions League group stage will be contested by 16 teams instead of eight.

The changes, which will apply to both the Champions League and Confederation Cup tournaments, were announced in May by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after a meeting at its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

Until now both competitions have featured eight teams in two groups of four teams.

Instead, “after the preliminary round, 32 teams will qualify for the last 16 round in both competitions. The winners of the last 16 round in the CAF Champions League, will after the drawing of lots, be divided into four groups of four teams each,” CAF said.

Lioli will be making their third appearance in four years in the competition.

In 2014, Tse Nala lost 3-2 on aggregate to Angola’s Primiero de Agosto while this year they succumbed on away goals to Vital’O of Burundi after a 2-2 aggregate score.

Both defeats came in the preliminary round and on both occasions Lioli could count themselves unlucky after being let down by the smallest of margins.

The champions, therefore, will be looking to use the experience gained from those outings to finally win a Champions League tie when the competition kicks off on the weekend of February 10. No Lesotho club has achieved the feat since 2001 when LDF beat Botswana’s Mogoditshane Fighters 1-0 on aggregate in the preliminary round to the reach the first round.

If Lioli were to win their preliminary round tie their final hurdle to the group stage would be the first round which will be played in March.

Lioli would then be able to look forward to potential money-spinning games against African titans Mamelodi Sundowns, TP Mazembe or Al Ahly if Tse Nala were to be drawn in their groups.

2017 CAF Champions League format:
First leg
Second leg
Preliminary round
10–12 February 2017
17–19 February 2017

First round
10–12 March 2017
17–19 March 2017
Group stage
Matchday 1
12–14 May 2017
23–24 May 2017
2–4 June 2017
20–21 June 2017
31 June–2 July 2017
7–9 July 2017

Matchday 2

Matchday 3

Matchday 4

Matchday 5

Matchday 6
Knockout stage
8–10 September 2017
15–17 September 2017

29 September–1 October 2017
13–15 October 2017

27–29 October 2017
3–5 November 2017

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