CAF Confed. Cup draw: Medeama look to avoid giants
Despite the upheaval they had to deal with ahead of their playoff second-leg against South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, Medeama SC have secured a spot in the next round of the Caf Confederation Cup ahead of Tuesday's draw.
The Yellow and Mauves took the lead against the newly crowned PSL champions in the first leg, but were undone at the death as three goals from Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Cuthbert Malajila gave Pitso Mosimane's side a significant advantage.
Medeama's situation was made worse when Swedish coach Tom Strand—who masterminded their Ghana FA Cup triumph last term—deserted the side and returned home after the match, reportedly leaving a note on the door of a Pretoria hotel to explain his departure.
With Strand absent, Medeama president Moses Armah turned to technical director Evans Adotey to step into the breach in an interim capacity. However, few gave the stop-gap coach much chance of securing progression past Downs in the next leg.
However, Medeama did just that.
Malik Akowush scored from the penalty spot towards the end of the first half to reduce arrears before Bernard Ofori ensured the Brazilians' successful season ended in disappointment when he added another goal midway through the second half.
Sundowns pushed for a decisive goal but were dumped out on away goals.
The Proudly Colourful Pride of the West now advances to their first-ever Caf CC group-stage campaign, where they will represent Ghana as the GPL's only representatives left in African competition.
They will encounter no shortage of pitfalls in the next round as they bid to reach the semi-finals, with no shortage of continental heavyweights waiting to end their fairytale journey.
Reigning Caf Champions League champions Tout Puissant Mazembe are the team that no other will want to encounter in the next round.
The Congolese giants may have failed to make the group stage of Africa's premier club competition and were unconvincing against Stade Gabesien of Tunisia in the Caf Confederation Cup playoff round.
However, few can match Mazembe's clout, and they will be heavy favourites to advance to the final four, regardless of their opening pool.
Etoile du Sahel—the reigning champions—will also be one of the biggest dogs in the group stage although they too demonstrated their vulnerability when they scraped past Gabonese side CF Mounana in the Libreville leg of their play-off.
Al-Ahli Tripoli will be one to watch having usurped fancied Egyptian outfit Misr El-Magassa in the last round. The Libyan side demonstrated their character to snatch an away goal in a 1-1 second-leg draw in Fayum to advance.
North Africa is also represented by Moroccan duo FUS Rabat and Kawkab Marrakech, as well as MO Bejaia of Algeria—with the region accounting for five of the eight group stage sides.
Young Africans of Tanzania ousted Sagrada Esperance to become the first side from East Africa to reach the group stage of Africa's secondary club competition.
The Tanzanian champs gave themselves a strong advantage in the tie with a 2-0 victory in the first leg, and while Love Kabungula—the competition's top scorer—gave the Angolan side a lifeline in the 25th minute, Yanga saw out the tie following a strong defensive performance.
The resiliency will serve them well as they look to escape the group.
While Medeama may have their work cut out to advance to the next round, few of their potential rivals will be too excited about the prospect of a trip to Tarkwa. Having seen off Medeama, the Yellow and Mauves will surely be quietly confident regardless of what stands in their way.