The business end of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League 2022-2023 is drawing closer, with the draw of the group stages set to take place on Monday 12 December 2022. The boys have been separated from the men, the wheat from the chaff.
But, this is the story of the season so far, after the completion of the first two preliminary knockout rounds.
12 is the number of countries represented in this knockout stage: Egypt (Al Ahly, Zamalek SC), Sudan (Al Hilal, Al Merreikh), Algeria (CR Belouizdad, JS Kabylie), Morocco (Raja CA, Wydad AC), Tunisia (EST), Cameroon (Coton Sport), Mali (Horoya AC), South Africa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Angola (Petro de Luanda), Tanzania (Simba SC), DR Congo (AS Vita Club), Uganda (Vipers).
Five-time champions TP Mazembe were the biggest casualties of the preliminary round, having been eliminated by Uganda’s Vipers SC. The result led to the firing of the entire technical bench to revive Mazembe, who have since qualified for the group stage of the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup.
The surprise package:
Ugandan champions Vipers provided the biggest upset in the preliminary rounds when they eliminated five-time champions Mazembe 4-2 on post match penalties. This was Vipers’ first ever qualification into the group stages of the Champions League.
The five-time Ugandan Premier League champions now hope to continue the same run of form and they hope for a favourable group when the draw is conducted.
The top scorers:
Mamelodi Sundowns, 2016 winners of the Champions League, showed their intent clear by picking the biggest ever win in the preliminary rounds of the competition.
They thrashed Seychellois side La passe 15-1 on aggregate. They won the first leg 7-0 and the return fixture 8-1, both matches being played in South Africa due to the lack of a certified ground in Seychelles.
Sundowns who had an unbeaten run in the group stages last season but eliminated in the quarters, showed they mean business.
The North African dominance
There are seven North African teams qualified to the group stages. Defending champions Wydad Athletic Club are in, though they were made to work for an assuring victory in the second leg before edging out Nigeria’s Rivers United 7-2 on aggregate.
They lost 2-1 away, but resounded with a 6-0 home victory. Arch rivals Raja Club Athletic are also in. Former champions Al Ahly and Zamalek make the Egyptian duo.
Algeria (CR Belouizdad, JS Kabilye) and Tunisia (Esperance) are also ably represented.