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 By Nick Said

Preview: CAF Confederation Cup Group Stage

Newly-crowned Ugandan league champions KCCA kick-off their CAF Confederation Cup group stage campaign with a difficult away day at FUS Rabat in Group A in Morocco on Saturday.

The Kampala club wrapped up their domestic league title on Tuesday when they scored two second-half penalties to beat Lweza FC 2-0, taking them eight points clear of second-placed SC Villa with two rounds of matches remaining.

It is a fourth Super League win in five seasons for the club and sets them up perfectly for the pool stages of the Confederation Cup having been narrowly ousted from the Champions League by the holders of that competition, Mamelodi Sundowns.

"We now have to concentrate on the Confederation Cup and the Uganda Cup, where we are in the semifinals," said coach Mike Mutebi, who admits to being obsessed with the methodology of Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.

KCCA have won their last five matches in all competitions, conceding just a single goal, and come up against an FUS side who have by contrast lost their last two.

The Rabat club have not been defeated in any of their 12 CAF club competition matches at home though, with nine wins and three draws in the Confederation Cup and Champions League.

It therefore presents KCCA with another chance to make some history in what is proving a golden era for the club.

The other match in the pool sees Nigerian side Rivers United travel to Tunisia to face 2011 runners-up Club Africain on Sunday.

Group B

Swaziland's Mbabane Swallows make their bow in the pool stages of the competition when they also travel to Tunisia for a daunting Group B clash with CS Sfaxien.

Sfaxien have been a dominant force in this competition since its inception, winning in 2007, 2008 and 2013, and also finishing runners-up in 2010. No side has a better record.

Having seen off fancied AC Leopards of the Congo in the last round, Swallows feel they are a side on the up, but start their pool campaign with the most difficult game on Saturday.

Earlier in the day South African side Platinum Stars hosts USM Alger from Algeria. Stars are also debuting in the pool stages and having recently secured their top-flight status in the Premier Soccer League, can go into this fixture a little more relaxed.

Group C

Zesco United have been talking up their chances of winning the Confederation Cup this year and well they might having reached the semifinals of the Champions League in 2016.

They host Egyptian side Smouha in their opening Group C clash on Saturday, but are coming off a surprise loss to NAPSA Stars in the Zambian Super League at the weekend.

"Smouha are a good team who I know from my days as assistant coach of TP Mazembe in the DR Congo," Zesco's Serbian coach Zlatko Krmpotic said.

"We beat them 2-0 away and 1-0 at home in the Champions League, but they were no pushovers and deserve respect."

Two of the less-fancied teams in Group C play on Sunday when Angola's Recreativo do Libolo host Al-Hilal Al-Ubayyid from Sudan in Calulo.

Group D

One team who will also believe they can go all the way is defending champions TP Mazembe, who host CF Mounana from Gabon in their Lubumbashi stronghold on Sunday.

The Group D clash looks to be a home banker, with Mazembe having won 16 of their previous 17 matches in Lubumbashi in the Confederation Cup. The only team to get anything from them was Etoile du Sahel in a 0-0 draw in 2016.

Mazembe are coming off a 1-0 away loss to rivals AS Vita Club at the weekend, and were ousted from the Champions League this season in a shock loss to Zimbabwean side CAPS United.

The other game in Group D sees South African cup holders SuperSport United host Horoya from Guinea in Tshwane.

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