The stage is set: Sierra Leone 2016 FA Cup Champions, FC Johansen, have a tough test ahead of them as they take on their Moroccan counterparts, Fath Union Sport de Rabat (FUS Rabat) in the first leg preliminary of the 53rd edition of the TOTAL CAF Champions league in Freetown on Saturday.
The Moroccans are very experienced in the continental stage. They were unbeaten in last season’s CAF Confederation cup group stage. They topped Group B taking 12 points from their six group stage matches and even seeing off Tunisian heavyweights Etoile du Sahel.
However, since missing out of reaching the Confederation Cup final following a 1-1 draw against Algerian side Mouloudia Bejaia in Morocco after a goalless first leg, the side from Rabat has been struggling this season.
They have only won once in their last five matches in the Moroccan Championship (known as Botola Maroc Telecom).
Former Morocco international, Hoalid Regragui’s side will find their host a hard nut to crack.
John Keister’s men on the other hand, despite no national championship in Sierra Leone, have recently tested their might against the Liberian Champions Barracks Young Controllers (BYC) and the Liberian CAF Confederation representative Club Brewery in a double-friendly tie in Liberia a few days ago.
FC Johansen suffered a 2-1 defeat in Liberia to BYC and won against Club Brewery, but notwithstanding, they will need to work overtime if they are to overpower FUS Rabat in Freetown.
Back in 2013, Johansen – then debutants in the CAF confederation were eliminated by Barrack YC II following a 1-0 aggregate defeat.
Meanwhile, The Moroccans will be leaving the shores of Morocco on Wednesday night for Freetown after a 1-0 defeat to RSB Berkane last Friday.
Friday’s defeat to RS Berkane means the Rabat-based club are 13 positions with 17 points from 16 matches heading into their crunch test in Freetown.
Rabat’s technical staffs have confirmed they will have two training sessions in Sierra Leone before taking on their hosts.
Rabat striker Gambian-born Njie Yusupha, 23, is a player to watch. The son of Gambian football legend, Biri-Biri, signed for the Rabat-based club from Real de Banjul and has been a revelation since joining the club.
The return leg in Rabat will be at the Stade de FUS, in Rabat in a week’s time from this Saturday.
First Round CAF Champions League preliminary
Sat 11/02/2017 Johansen (SLE) v FUS Rabat (MAR)
Date: 17/02/2017 FUS Rabat (MAR) v Johansen (SLE)
Follow the writer @bittar32 Contact firstname.lastname@example.org