Young Africans of Tanzania and Medeama of Ghana, who are competing in their first CAF Champions League group stage, were paired on Friday in Johannesburg alongside Egypt’s 11-time champion Al Ahly.
Group D is completed by Algeria’s Chabab Belouizdad. In the six matchdays between 24 November and 2 March, the top two clubs advance to the quarterfinals.
Young Africans, who finished second in the CAF Confederation Cup of the second tier the previous season, won all four qualifiers to earn their first appearance in the mini-league.
Six players combined for the 10 goals scored in the elimination of Sudan’s Al Merrikh and Djibouti’s ASAS Telecom, with Cement Mzize scoring three of them.
Medeama survived two tough west African showdowns to become the first Ghanaian qualifiers to reach the last 16 since Berekum Chelsea in 2012.
Medeama edged Remo Stars of Nigeria on penalties, then pipped Horoya of Guinea 4-3 on aggregate with Jonathan Sowah converting a second-leg penalty for what proved the tie-deciding goal.
Ahly outplayed Saint George of Ethiopia twice to triumph 7-0 overall at the start of a challenge for a record-extending 12th title.
Mahmoud Kahraba, Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy and Hussein el Shahat scored two goals each for Ahly, who played both legs in Cairo as Saint George did not have an international-standard stadium.
TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a five-time champion, and two newcomers, Pyramids of Egypt and Nouadhibou of Mauritania, are in Group A with Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.
Since defeating Egyptian side Zamalek 3-1 on aggregate in the 2016 final, the Pretoria club is attempting to finish in the top two of its group for the seventh time in eight seasons.
As part of Group B, which also includes the 1998 champions ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast, Simba of Tanzania will renew rivalries with Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Jwaneng Galaxy of Botswana.
The Dar es Salaam team defeated Jwaneng despite winning 2-0 away in a 2022 qualifying match, but fell on penalties to Wydad in the quarterfinals of the previous campaign.
CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FULL DRAWS
Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA), Pyramids (EGY), TP Mazembe (COD), Nouadhibou (MTN)
Wydad Casablanca (MAR), Simba (TAN), ASEC Mimosas (CIV), Jwaneng Galaxy (BOT)
Esperance (TUN), Petro Luanda (ANG), Al Hilal (SUD), Etoile Sahel (TUN)
Al Ahly (EGY, holders), Chabab Belouizdad (ALG), Young Africans (TAN), Medeama (GHA)