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Benghazi face Pirates in first CAF club match in Libya since 2010

Johannesburg (AFP) – Al Ahly Benghazi will become the first Libyan club since 2010 to host a CAF club match when they tackle South African visitors Orlando Pirates Sunday in the Confederation Cup. 

Deadly violence in the post-Moamer Kadhafi era forced Libyan national teams and clubs to stage home matches in other north African countries, mostly Tunisia and Egypt.

A recent United Nations-supervised deal has restored calm to the country and Benghazi hosted an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tunisia last week.

Here, AFP Sport previews matchday 3 in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League with the first and second seeds in the four groups meeting.

Group A

Former Pirates star Joseph Makhanya has advised German coch Josef Zinnbauer to sharpen his attack and lay siege to the Benghazi goalmouth in pursuit of maximum points.

Makhanya told the Sowetan newspaper that the experiment of using Namibia winger Deon Hotto as a central forward must end, and he wants Tshegofatso Mabasa and Malawian Frank Mhango chosen as a twin strike force. 

“The way Pirates have been playing is like going to war and leaving your weapons at home,” said Makhanya of a team that has netted seven times in five CAF matches this season.

Group B

Title-holders Renaissance Berkane of  Morocco will look to 35-year-old Mouhcine Iajour for goals as they seek to bounce back from a loss at Coton Sport of Cameroon when they host leaders JS Kabylie of Algeria.

The Orange Boys have scored four goals in their latest African campaign and three have come from the veteran forward, who played in Switzerland, Belgium, Qatar and Saudi Arabia before returning home.

It is win or bust for bottom club NAPSA Stars of Zambia when they host a Coton team with an impressive CAF away record this season of three wins from four matches. 

Group C

The clash between Etoile Sahel and frontrunners CS Sfaxien in Rades pits Tunisian clubs with outstanding Confederation Cup records against each other.

Sfaxien have won the competition a record three times and Etoile twice and both have also been runners-up since the competition launched in 2004.

Both sides hope leading scorers — Souleymane Coulibaly of Etoile and Firas Chaouat of Sfaxien — can put recent barren outings behind them.

Group D

Something has to give when Raja Casablanca of Morocco face Pyramids of Egypt as they are the only clubs among the 16 in the group phase with 100 percent records after two matchdays.

Both north African outfits have beaten Namungo of Tanzania and Nkana of Zambia to create a six-point gap between them and their rivals.

Soufiane Rahimi is an in-form Raja attacker while nine of the Pyramids team have scored at least once, including Burkinabe Eric Traore, Palestinian Mahmoud Wadi and Uruguayan Diego Rolan.

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