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Favourable draw for Ahly; Ismaily placed in tough Champions League group
Published in Ahram Online on 28 - 12 - 2018

Record eight-time winners Ahly of Egypt were handed a favourable African Champions League draw after being placed with DR Congo's Vita Club, Tanzania's Simba and JS Saoura of Algeria on Friday.
Fellow Egyptian side Ismaily, who are making their first appearance in Africa's blue-riband competition in eight years, will face a much tougher opposition in Group C.
They were drawn with five-time winners TP Mazembe of the DR Congo, Tunisia's Club Africain and CS Constantine of Algeria. Ismaily were eliminated at the group stage on their previous Champions League appearance in 2010.
Ahly are overwhelming favourites to advance from Group D as they eye their first Champions League triumph since winning the last of their record titles in 2013.
They agonisingly missed out on the prestigious accolade in the past two seasons, falling at the last hurdle after final defeats by Morocco's Wydad and Tunisia's Esperance in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Intriguing competition is also anticipated in Group A, which features heavyweights Wydad, Ivory Coast's ASEC Mimosas, 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa as well as Nigeria's Lobi Stars.
Reigning champions Esperance will play in Group B along with Zimbabwe's FC Platinum, South Africa's Orlando Pirates and Horoya AC of Guinea.
The group stage will begin next month after CAF decided to hold the competition over the course of the regular European season instead of playing it in a calendar year, as has always been the case.
The full draw:
Group A: Lobi Stars, Wydad Casablanca, ASEC Mimosas, Mamelodi Sundowns
Group B: FC Platinum, Orlando Pirates, Horoya AC, Esperance
Group C: Ismaily, CS Constantine, Club Africain, Mazembe
Group D: JS Saoura, Simba, Vita Club, Ahly
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