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African Champions League resumes, with issues

July 21, 2013

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The African Champions League resumed this weekend with only two of the four matches scheduled for the opening round of a disjointed eight-team group stage able to be played because of violence in Egypt and Cameroon’s football ban.

South Africa’s Orlando Pirates drew 0-0 with Republic of Congo’s AC Leopards in Group A on Saturday. Angola’s Recreativo de Libolo beat Tunisia’s Esperance 1-0 on Sunday to lead Group B’s early standings.

Cameroon club Coton Sport wasn’t allowed to play its Group B opener against Ivory Coast’s Sewe Sport after its national federation was suspended by FIFA for government interference following a disputed football election in June.

The match has been postponed, but Coton Sport has retained its place in Africa’s top club competition for now as Cameroon negotiates with the world body over the end of its ban. A Cameroon delegation was received by FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Switzerland last week, and the West African country could return to international competitions if a temporary committee is appointed and takes over the running of the fractured federation until new elections.

The meeting of Cairo rivals Zamalek and defending champion Al Ahly also was put back — until Wednesday — because of political turmoil and the threat of violence in Egypt.

Their derby in Group A is set to be played in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna after Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria were deemed unsafe for the high-profile game because of prolonged political unrest after Mohammed Morsi was overthrown as president. Egypt’s domestic league has already been ended early.

In Johannesburg, 1995 African champion Orlando Pirates missed a number of chances at their Orlando Stadium to be held by the Congolese visitors.

Recreativo de Libolo was the only team to win with its narrow home victory over Esperance, last year’s runner-up to Al Ahly.

The four teams in each group play each other home and away with the top two qualifying for the Champions League semifinals.

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