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Africa roundup: Cash-conscious Celtic put South Africa before CAF

AFP logo AFP 27-11-2020 AFP
a football player on a field: Bloemfontein Celtic defender Mzwanele Mahashe (R) will miss a CAF Confederation Cup match this weekend in order to prepare for a South African knockout competition final. © FADEL SENNA Bloemfontein Celtic defender Mzwanele Mahashe (R) will miss a CAF Confederation Cup match this weekend in order to prepare for a South African knockout competition final.

Cash-strapped Bloemfontein Celtic have prioritised South Africa over Africa by sending reserves to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round first leg this weekend.

Celtic will tackle Congolese league leaders AS Maniema Union in the remote central city of Kindu while the first team stay at home preparing for the MTN8 final against Orlando Pirates on December 10.

The South African knockout competition for the top eight finishers in the previous league offers a winners-take-all prize of eight million rand ($525,000/440,000 euros).

Clubs competing in the Confederation Cup -- the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League -- have to survive three two-leg qualifying rounds before prize money comes into play at the group stage.

Here, AFP Sport rounds up football news from around Africa.

South Africa

Celtic climbed out of the South African Premiership relegation zone with a 1-0 home win over Black Leopards thanks to an early second half goal from captain Ndumiso Mabena.

The Bloemfontein outfit have had a mixed start to the season under Malawian coach John Maduka -- excelling in the MTN8 but struggling in the league.

They shocked Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United to secure a final date with Pirates, but took only one point from a possible 12 before edging Leopards.

Cameroon

Warm-up wins over the South Sudan national team and Libyan club Al Ahly Tripoli have boosted PWD Bamenda from Cameroon as they prepare for a fairytale CAF Champions League debut Sunday against Kaizer Chiefs.

In four seasons the club have risen from the fourth tier to the first, but for security reasons will have to host the South African outfit 355 kilometres (220 miles) from Bamenda in southwestern city Limbe.   

Ernst Middendorp wearing a suit and tie: German Ernst Middendorp has quit Ethiopian club Saint George to coach South African strugglers Maritzburg United. © Anesh DEBIKY German Ernst Middendorp has quit Ethiopian club Saint George to coach South African strugglers Maritzburg United.

"We are the proud champions of Cameroon and intend to go very far in Africa this season," boasted captain and midfielder Louis Mbah.

Egypt

The 2020 CAF Super Cup match between Champions League title-holders Al Ahly or Zamalek from Egypt and Confederation Cup winners Renaissance Berkane of Morocco will be staged in Cairo, the organisers said.

No date was announced for the one-off game, which Qatar staged in 2019 and 2020 to "broaden interest in the match", according to a Confederation of African Football official.

Ahly have lifted the Super Cup a record six times, but the last winners were Zamalek, who defeated Esperance of Tunisia 3-1 in Doha last February.

Ethiopia

German coach Ernst Middendorp has quit Ethiopian giants Saint George just one month into a three-year contract to rejoin South African strugglers Maritzburg United after two previous stints with them. 

Former South Africa midfielder Eric Tinkler was fired by Maritzburg this week after four losses since the season kicked off have left the club bottom of the league table.

The 62-year-old German moved to Ethiopia from South Africa only last month after being fired by Kaizer Chiefs for finishing championship runners-up after topping the table for 28 of the 30 rounds.

Sudan

Sudanese club Al Hilal will participate a record 34th time in the CAF Champions League when they meet hosts Vipers SC of Uganda in a preliminary round first leg Saturday.

Hilal first competed in the elite African club competition 54 years ago and have played in every edition since 2004, reaching the semi-finals four times.

Record eight-time Champions League winners Al Ahly of Egypt are second behind Hilal as they will make a 32nd appearance in December after receiving a bye into the last-32 round.

Mauritania

Comoros national team coach Amir Abdou has signed a two-year contract to coach Mauritanian champions FC Nouadhibou and will be assisted by Tunisian Wissem Maaref.

Marseille-born Abdou was given his first senior club post after taking the Comoros to the verge of securing an Africa Cup of Nations place for the first time.

The island nation need one point from a home fixture against Togo next March to seal a top-two finish in Group G and qualification for the 24-team tournament in Cameroon.

Libya

Libyan clubs Al Ahly Benghazi and Al Ittihad, who cannot host CAF club fixtures because of violence in the oil-rich north African country, have chosen Egypt as their 'home from home'.

Both play Saturday in Cairo with Benghazi meeting Mekelle 70 Enderta from Ethiopia in the Champions League and Ittihad tackling Horseed of Somalia in the Confederation Cup.

The other Libyan club in the Champions League, Al Nasr, are away to CR Belouizdad of Algeria while Al Ahly Tripoli have a Confederation Cup bye to the last-32 stage.

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