Monrovia - Mozambique’s Clube Ferroviário da Beira (CFB) will meet Liberia’s Barrack Young Controllers (BYC) in the first round first leg of the 2017 CAF Champions League at the Estadio do Ferroviario in Beira on March 12.
A 28-man BYC delegation, which is headed by Liberia Football Association (LFA) Deputy Technical Director Kaetu Smith, arrived in Beira on March 9, having departed Monrovia in the afternoon of March 8 aboard Kenya airway with transits in Accra, Nairobi and Harare.
Speaking to reporters before their departure, BYC head coach Copper Sannah said he’s hopeful of collecting a point.
“We are determined to make history for Liberia but know that away games are very difficult; we will do our best,” he said.
BYC, who have 17 points from nine games in the LFA first division league, go into the clash with a mixed form.
They drew 0-0 with 10-man Monrovia Club Breweries on March 6 and thrashed Invincible Eleven 6-0 on March 3 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) and Blue Field respectively.
CFB maybe a bit match-rusty, having lost 1-2 away to Club Desportive de Nacala on March 5 and beaten FC Lichinga 3-1 on March 8 after two games in the Moçambola.
BYC eliminated Mali’s Stade Malien 7-6 on penalties, after a 1-1 aggregate, to reach the first round and will be hoping to qualify for the group stage for the first time this season.
CFB qualified by defeating Zanzibar’s Zimamoto FC 4-3 on aggregate during the preliminaries.
The aggregate winner qualifies for the prestigious group stage with a whooping US$550,000 as qualification fee.
The Liberia Football Association (LFA) will be fasting and praying for BYC as it is guaranteed a five-percent share or US$27,500.
BYC are making their third appearance, having eliminated Stade Malien of Mali 7-6 on penalties, after drawing 1-1 on aggregate at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako on February 19.
Before the two legs, BYC president Sekou Konneh told a news conference on February 8 that they are aiming to become the first Liberian club to qualify for the group state.
What an ambitious target it was considering the pedigree of the Malians but BYC are now 180 minutes away for setting an enviable record.
In their debut appearance after winning the 2013 LFA premier league, BYC eliminated Ghana’s Asante Kotoko on the away goal rule in the preliminary round by losing 2-1 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on February 9, 2014 in Kumasi and winning 1-0 at the ATS on February 16, 2014 in Monrovia.
They were paired with Ivory Coast’s Sewe Sport in the first round but lost 4-3 on aggregate.
In the first leg, BYC came from two goals down to draw 3-3 at the ATS on March 2, 2014 but lost 1-0 in Abidjan on March 9, 2014.
In their second appearance as LFA 2013/2014 first division champions, BYC were drawn against Gambia’s Real de Banjul.
It was a tough campaign because Liberia was banned from hosting international matches by CAF and Fifa due to the escalation of the Ebola Virus Disease.
BYC were then scheduled to use the Stade du 26 Mars on March 1, 2015 but the Mali Football Federation rejected their request.
And they were forced to play both legs in Banjul, drawing 1-1 on February 14, 2015 and losing 1-0 on March 7, 2015.
Pundits have since argued that BYC would have made the first round and even the group stage had it not been for Ebola.
Who are their opponents?
CFB play in the top division or Moçambola in Mozambique, where football is the most popular sport.
They have a 7,000 seater stadium (mentioned above) and were Moçambique Colonial Champions in 1974.
CFB won the 2016 Moçambola and 2005 and 2013 Taça de Moçambique or FA Cup.
Performance in CAF competitions
They qualified for the Champions League by winning their domestic league with 61 points (18 wins, seven draws and five defeats), six points more than second place UD Songo.
The new season begins with a home match against UP Lichinga on March 11.
Their last league game, a 2-1 home win over LD Maputo, was on October 29, 2016 but they eliminated Zimamoto of Zanzibar 4-3 on aggregate in the preliminary round.
They lost the first leg 2-1 at the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar City on February 11 and won the return leg 3-1 on February 19 with goals from Chelito, Dayo and Babo.
2006 Confederation Cup
The tie between CFB and Union of the Comoros’ Elan Club de Mitsoudjé was played over one leg only by mutual consent and CFB won 2-1 on February 17 in the preliminary round.
CFB were drawn against USJF Ravinala of Madagascar and lost 4-3 on penalties, having drawn 0-0 on aggregate in the first round.
2014 Confederation Cup
CFB beat Tanzania’s Azam FC 2–1 on aggregate in the preliminary round, having lost the first leg 1-0 at the Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam on February 9 and won the second leg 2-0 on February 16.
They were drawn against Zambia’s Zesco United but lost 1-0 on aggregate in the first round, having drawn 0-0 at home on March 2 and lost 1-0 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on March 8.
In the 1995 CAF Cup (now Confederation Cup), CFB beat Kenya’s Mumias Sugar 2-1 on aggregate in the first round, drawing 1-1 away and winning 1-0 at home but lost 1-0 on aggregate to Cameroon’s Canon Yaoundé in the second round. They drew the first leg and lost the second leg.
In the 1994 African Cup Winners' Cup (which merged with the CAF Cup to become Confederation Cup), CFB lost to Kenya Breweries 5-1 on aggregate.
So BYC must be careful not to concede more than a goal away and wary of conceding at home.
It must be stated that BYC have won 13 trophies (spread across their teams) since 2009, excluding their silverwares from third division.
CFB will be a tough nut to crack but my money is on BYC to advance after the two legs.
List of BYC delegation
They include Kaetu Smith, President Sekou Konneh, VP for finance Prince Sumo Jaiblai, director of football Thomas Kojo, Cooper Sannah, administrative manager Albert Sarweah, trainer Anthony Trainer, medic Melvin Jerry, goalkeeper trainer Ben Perry and media consultant Christopher Walker.
The player are Allengton Sembeh, Morris Tarr, Prince Jetoh, David Tweh, Sporo Somah, Hilton Varney, Mark Paye, Gideon Williams, Kemoh Kamara, James Kpoto, Van-Dave Harmon, Randy Dukuly, Abdullah Yaya Bility, Sylvanus Morris, Koffa Dougbeh, Prince Kennedy, Solomon Yahweh and Prince Saydee.