Brief Guide to the 2019 African Champions League teams

Lobi Stars

Qualified for the group stages by the skin of their teeth on the away goals rule against Kenyan giants Gor Mahia, which came after they put themselves in a precarious against UMS de Loum in the previous round. They’ll need to tighten up in defence in harder against the seasoned duo of Wydad Casablanca and Mamelodi Sundowns in particular.

Star Man: Sikiru Alimi

One to watch: Samad Kadiri

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

Horoya

Quarter-finals last year, the Guineans will do well to repeat those exploits, though it wouldn’t be a shock after the resolve they’ve shown in recent additions. The impending arrival of Aristide Bance to their ranks give them the firepower they lost after the sale of youngster Sekou Camara to Difaa El Jadida.

Star Man: Khadim N’Diaye

One to watch: Ocansey Mandela

SFG Predicts: Quarter-finalists

Esperance Tunis

The champions defend their title having not lost any of the stars that were crucial in their campaign last year. That is good news for them as their core of Anice Badri, Franck Kom, Khalil Chemmam and Moez Ben Cherifia should ensure they are in the tournament for the long haul. The bad news is their rivals haven’t stood still, in the case of Al Ahly they have invested heavily.

Star Man: Anice Badri

One to watch: Franck Kom

SFG Predicts: Finalists

Mamelodi Sundowns

Sundowns will rekindle their frosty rivalry with Wydad Casablanca. Winners three years ago, the Brazilians have changed the perception of South African clubs on the continent by taking his competition very seriously. Though the lack of support in their home games can be their undoing, they still have a team that can challenge.

Star Man: Anthony Laffor

One to watch: Rivaldo Coetzee

SFG Predicts: Quarter-finalists

Club Africain

Incredibly, the Tunisians are playing in their first CL campaign since 1997. They return to the contest not in the best shape. A transfer embargo that will last for the next year because of unpaid salary to former player Souleymane Coulibaly means Club Africain don’t have the deep reservoir of players that is needed to juggle the different competitions they are in.

Star Man: Yassine Chamakhi

One to watch: Ghazi Ayadi

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

CS Constantine

The Algeria champions saw off Gambian and Ugandan opposition to make it to the group stage. They have struggled to for goals since last season, and were wasteful against GAMTEL and Vipers in the preliminary rounds, but they do have a good defence and they do thrive on the counter. That could work in their favour.

Star Man: Lamine Abid

One to watch: Abdenour Belkheir

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

Wydad Casablanca

The spine of the team that won the title in 2017 still remains and they should be able to see off teams at home, despite the disadvantage of not playing their games at the under-renovation Mohamed V Stadium. The squad doesn’t have any particular stars but they showed in the past that was no obstacle.

Star Man: Mohamed Ounajem

One to watch: Achraf Dari

SFG Predicts: Semi-finalists

ASEC Mimosas

Around this time 20 years ago they were a force to be reckoned with, the likes of the Toure brothers, Didier Zokora and Boubacar Barry beaming them brightly in the CAF Super Cup. This time they return to the continent’s premier competition with back-to-back league titles and a resolute defence that has the experienced Abdoul Karim Cisse to call upon.

Star Man: Abdoul Karim Cisse

One to watch: Fonsinho

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit  

Simba

For years they have had hopes of taking part in this competition, so they can protect the integrity of the Tanzanian flag. Backed by billionaire Mo Dewji, Simba come into this year with a squad so deep that their spokesman has claimed that “they could play two games in different locations at the same time”.

Star Man: Cletus Chama

One to watch: Shiza Kichuya

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

JS Saoura

Formed just in 2008 it’s fair to say that JS Saoura have had quite the rise from the lower leagues of the Algeria to the group stages of the African CL. They qualified impressively beating SC Gagnoa before causing a surprise by seeing off Ittihad Tangier, conceding just 1 goal in those four games.

Star Man: Moustapha Djalit

One to watch: Thomas Ulimwengu

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

Al Ahly

Undeniably one of the favourites. A loss in the final last year has seen them embark on the sort of spending spree rarely seen before in Africa, with the headline signings of Hussein El Shahat from Al Ain for £4m and the return of Ramadan Sobhi on loan. As always, the aim is to be at the very top of the food chain.

Star Man: Ramadan Sobhi

One to watch: Salah Mohsen

SFG Predicts: Finalists – and winners

Vita Club

Entering his fifth year in the hot seat, Florent Ibenge’s reign makes Vita Club arguably the most stable club in the tournament. Finishing as runners-up in the CAF Confederation Cup at the tail-end of last year was painful, and they have been ransacked since then by North African clubs. There’s still more than enough quality for them to be a force to be reckoned with when at home.

Star Man: Jean Marc-Makusu

One to watch: Nelson Lukong

SFG Predicts: Quarter-finals

TP Mazembe

Anything less than a semi-final appearance will see heads roll. Five continental titles in the last 10 years is impressive, and during that time there has been many near-misses. It’s the Champions League that they really want – their last title came in 2015.

Star Man: Tresor Mputu

One to watch: Ben Malango

SFG Predicts: Semi-finalists

Ismaily

Currently struggling in the Egyptian League but they have strengthened in the transfer windows to improve their position and cope with the demands of the Champions League. The arrivals of Benson Shilongo and Yahya Zayd should add options in attack that could propel them to the knockout stage.

Star Man: Hosny Abd Rabo

One to watch: Yahya Zayd

SFG Predicts: Quarter-finalists

FC Platinum

Formed in 1995 this is FC Platinum’s first ever CL appearance. Though there is a danger they could become the whipping boys of the group, the re-emergence of Zimbabwean football in recent years, and the calibre of players they have been exporting, has shown there is enough weaponry in their ranks. Rodwell Chinyengetere is a player in their ranks who may just show that.

Star Man: Rodwell Chinyengetere

One to watch: Farai Madhanaga

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

Orlando Pirates

Micho’s team were free-scoring in qualification games, though it doesn’t tell the whole story in terms of their current state where they tend to be a low-scoring side. Though they are keeping it tight at the back, and few coaches in Africa are as good at getting the best out of low-scoring sides, the cohort of established strikers need to find their goalscoring boots at a higher level.

Star Man: Happy Jele

One to watch: Maliele Pule

SFG Predicts: Group stage exit

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