Winners of the 2016/17 Ethiopian Premier League, St George FC, will kick start their champions league campaign by facing champions of the South Sudanese topflight Al-Salaam FC in the preliminary round of the 2018 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League. This was announced on Wednesday by the continental football governing body Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The South Sudan Cup winners will visit the Horsemen in the first leg between February 9-11, 2018 with the return leg set to be played a week later, between February 16-18, 2018.
The successful winner between the two clubs will face either Uganda’ KCCA Football Club or Madagascar champions CNaPS SPORT.
Elsewhere, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco will begin the defense of their African Champions League title against either Mali’s Stade Malien or newcomers Williamsville AC of Ivory Coast.
As the reigning champions, Wydad are one of five teams to be given a bye into the second round of the tournament, which begins in March.
Beaten finalists in 2017 Al Ahly of Egypt and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Confederation Cup winners TP Mazembe are also straight into the second round.
The other teams to skip the first round are the 2016 African champions Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa and Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel, who lifted the trophy in 2007.
The 16 winners of the second round ties will advance to the group stage of the tournament.
For the first time ever Zambia had two teams in the draw with Zanaco, who reached the group stage in 2017 drawn to play Gambia Armed Forces, while Zesco United will play Zanzibar’s JKU SC.
The 2018 Champions League will begin on the weekend of 9-11 February with the two-leg final set for November.
A change in the calendar for the Confederation of African Football means that the next Champions Leagues will begin in December 2018 and run through to May 2019.
After the 2019 final the competition will be held from August or September through to May of the next year.