South African 'Swanky Boys' seek dream Africa date

AFP, Thursday 10 Feb 2011

South African club SuperSport United head for the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho this weekend hoping to banish domestic blues and book a dream African Champions League date

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The Pretoria 'Swanky Boys' -- so called because of their polished style on and off the field -- hold a 2-0 advantage over modest Matlama after the first leg of a first round qualifier two weeks ago.

That cushion should be sufficient to see SuperSport through to the last 32 and a clash with Al-Ahly of Egypt, record six-time winners of the premier Pan-African club competition.

"It would be a wonderful experience for my players to meet Ahly and I would relish the challenge too. This is a huge incentive for us to get past Matlama," said United coach Gavin Hunt.

After defying the odds to win the South African Premiership three seasons in a row, Hunt and his team now find themselves closer to the bottom of the table than the top after just five victories in 19 championship outings.

A mid-season revival that included the prized scalp of neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns proved fleeting and they have lost their last three games with poor finishing a continuing curse hanging over the squad.

Week after week Hunt laments squandered scoring chances and United must do without ill Kermit Erasmus and injured Liberia captain Anthony Laffor for the Matlama fixture.

There will be three former champions playing in a schedule cut from 22 fixtures to 13 because clubs with three or more footballers at the African Nations Championship in Sudan were granted a two-week postponement.

Zamalek, whose five titles is bettered only by Cairo neighbours Ahly, are also sidelined with continuing political unrest in Egypt preventing the 'White Knights' hosting Ulinzi Stars from Kenya.

Mouloudia Alger were the first African champions from Algeria, overcoming a 3-0 first-leg hiding to pip Hafia of Guinea on penalties in the 1976 final when the competition was called the African Champions Cup.

They should advance having held Real Bangui 1-1 in the Central African Republic while three-time champions Raja Casablanca of Morcoco are 'bankers' after torturing Tourbillon of Chad 10-1 at home.

Nigerian outfit Enyimba, who share with Ahly and TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo the distinction of successfully defending the title, have home advantage and a 1-0 lead over St Michel Ouenze from Congo.

There are also 13 fixtures in the second-tier African Confederation Cup and South Africans Wits University must overturn a 1-0 away loss inflicted by Reunion debutants Sainte-Marienne to avoid a shock exit.

After a 4-4 thriller in Dar es Salaam, the odds have tilted toward African rookies Dedebit of Ethiopia against vastly experienced Young Africans, whose Serb coach Kostadin Papic quit recently because of bickering officials.

FUS Rabat mocked the form book last year by lifting the trophy and two clubs from the North African kingdom, Moghreb Fes and Difaa al-Jadida, appear bound for the second round after forcing first-leg draws in West Africa.

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