Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy and club owner John Comitis. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The ambitious Cape Town City have set their sights on going all the way in their first appearance in the Caf Confederation Cup.

The Citizens booked their place in next year’s competition by finishing third in their debut campaign in the Absa Premiership last season after John Comitis bought Mpumalanga Black Aces’ status and relocated the club to the Mother City.

The Citizens brought fresh energy and innovation to the country’s football landscape. Their ambition was quenched by the Telkom Knockout title they won before they turned even a year old.

City start their Confederation Cup campaign against Young Buffaloes of Swaziland with the first leg in Mbabane. Should they win that match, they will face either Galaxy FC of Botswana or Clube de Desportos da Costa do Sol of Mozambique, with a place in the group stage up for grabs.

This year’s Confederation Cup losing finalists, SuperSport United, got a bye in the first round. Matsatsantsa a Pitori will take on Masters Security Services FC of Mali or Atletico Petroleos de Luanda of Angola.

“The target is to go all the way, there are no compromises,” City boss, Comitis said. “It’s a good thing that we have been handed a relatively easy start and not a start from hell. Swaziland is easy to access, which means that the logistics are easy. They aren’t a footballing powerhouse, so expecting a positive result in our first match isn’t a tough ask.”

Mamelodi Sundowns, just like their cross-town rivals SuperSport, got a bye in the preliminary round thanks to winning the Caf Champions League in 2016 and reaching the quarter-finals this year - losing to eventual winners Wydad Casablanca of Morocco. 

The Brazilians will be eager to make up for that disappointment in their clash with either Rayon Sport of Rwanda or Lydia Ludic Burundi Academic in the first round. Bidvest Wits were drawn with Pamplemousses of Mauritius in the preliminary round with the first leg in Milpark. Should Wits emerge victorious they will face either FC Platinum from Zimbabwe or Angola’s Clube Desportivo 1º de Agosto.

This year South Africa had a record three clubs in the group stages, Sundowns in the Champions League while SuperSport and Platinum Stars reached the group stage of the Confederation Cup. Looking at the draw the country’s four participants got, all four teams can reach the group stage.

“We will put our strongest squad in this competition,” Comitis said. “If you look at our team, it’s not too far-fetched to think that we can reach the group stage. We are an ambitious team that’s always looking to grow. This competition is an ideal opportunity to do so by taking our brand across the continent.”

Even though the competition is a financially taxing process, the increase in prize money makes up for it for the winners. Close to R34-million is up for grabs in the Champions League, while the winners of the Confederation Cup will get a cheque in the region of R17-million.

“What Sundowns, SuperSport and (Orlando) Pirates have done in these competitions motivates us to go all the way,” Comitis said. “There is now more prestige in playing in these competitions and Caf have got their act right which is why we fancy our chances.”

These two tournaments will start in February and finish in November. From 2019 these competitions will run from August to May.

The Star

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