JOHANNESBURG: Egyptian club Zamalek, one of the strongest contenders for the 2018/2019 CAF Confederation Cup, were paired with Moroccan outfit Ittihad Tanger Friday in the play-offs draw in Cairo.
The White Knights have won nine CAF titles, making them the joint third most successful club in the annual African competitions.
But the Cairo side are long overdue an African triumph having last lifted a trophy in 2003 when they hosted and won the one-off CAF Super Cup match.
Zamalek sounded a warning that they mean business this season in the African equivalent of the Europa League when they slammed seven goals past Chadian side ASCOT in a qualifier.
Ittihad are among 15 teams demoted to the Confederation Cup from the CAF Champions League, the premier African club competition, after losing round-of-30 ties.
Tunisian sides CS Sfaxien and Etoile Sahel and trophy-holders Raja Casablanca of Morocco are three other clubs in the play-offs with outstanding pedigrees.
Record three-time Confederation Cup winners Sfaxien drew Ugandan side Vipers SC and look set to win the tie and secure a place in the 16-team group phase.
Raja, whose 11 victories and 34 goals last season were records for a Confederation Cup-winning team, were paired with minnows African Stars from Namibia.
Etoile, twice winners of the Confederation Cup, received a bye to the group draw as they had the highest ranking among the 16 survivors after Confederation Cup qualifying.
Asante Kotoko of Ghana and Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa, clubs who have not won CAF titles for a long time, will play away first.
Kotoko visit Cameroonian club and experienced African campaigners Coton Sport while Chiefs travel to Zambian outfit Zesco United.