Johannesburg – Rivers United had hopes of becoming the first Nigerian winners of the CAF Confederation Cup boosted on Monday after the draw for the group stage was made in Cairo.
The club from the southeastern city of Port Harcourt were placed in Group B with ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast, Diables Noirs of Congo and DC Motema Pembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Former African champions ASEC should justify being the top seeds in the section by topping the standings after the six-round mini-league, which kicks off on February 12.
But Rivers need not fear Diables nor Pembe in what is likely to be a tight three-team fight for the other ticket to the quarter-finals.
Rivers have had a mixed season in Africa, losing heavily to title-holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the CAF Champions League and dropping to the second-tier Confederation Cup.
ALSO READ | France eye World Cup glory as Morocco loom
In the Confederation Cup, the Nigerians slammed five goals past Al Nasr of Libya in the first leg of a play-off and drew the return match to reach the group stage.
South African hopefuls Marumo Gallants face several long trips after being grouped with USM Alger of Algeria and Al Akhdar of Libya in Group A, and Saint-Eloi Lupopo of DR Congo.
Marumo, who have been struggling in domestic league this season, eliminated another Libyan outfit, Al Ahly Tripoli, in the play-offs.
Young Africans of Tanzania shocked Club Africain in the last round and now face another Tunisian side, US Monastir, in Group D, where TP Mazembe of DR Congo will be favourites.
Mazembe (2016, 2017) and FAR Rabat (2005) of Morocco are the two contenders who have won the Confederation Cup, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
USM Alger (ALG), Marumo Gallants (RSA), Al Akhdar (LBA), Saint-Eloi Lupopo (COD)
ASEC Mimosas (CIV), Diables Noirs (CGO), Rivers Utd (NGR), DC Motema Pembe (COD)
Pyramids (EGY), ASKO Kara (TOG), Future (EGY), FAR Rabat (MAR)
TP Mazembe (COD), US Monastir (TUN), Young Africans (TAN), Real Bamako (MLI)
Matchdays: Feb 12, Feb 19, Feb 26, Mar 9, Mar 19, Apr 2
Note: Group winners and runners-up qualify for quarter-finals
Follow African Insider on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
For more African news, visit Africaninsider.com