Surprise entrants TS Galaxy don't think they'll win the Confed Cup, but...
South African second-tier team TS Galaxy's journey remains one of the most compelling narratives in African club football this year, as they prepare to face Madagascar's CnaPS Sport in a first round, first-leg match of the 2019/20 Confederation Cup this weekend.
TS Galaxy's very presence in the continental competition is a surprise, with the Mpumalanga-based club (which was only founded in 2015) stunning South Africa's so-called 'Cup Kings' Kaizer Chiefs in the final of the Nedbank Cup back in May to earn their spot in Africa's second club competition.
And though the start of their domestic season has been underwhelming (two draws from as many matches in the National First Division), the Rockets proved that their cup success was no fluke when they overcame St Louis Suns United of the Seychelles 2-0 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the continental tournament.
They now face a much sterner test against Madagascar side CnaPS, but captain and goalkeeper Ludwe Mpakumpaku insists his side are under no pressure and are simply enjoying the ride.
"We are taking it one game at a time. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and think that we can go all the way, and win this competition," Mpakumpaku told ESPN.
"We are using this competition as a learning curve. We have a lot of youngsters in the squad and some players are inexperienced at this level including myself.
"We have achieved a rare feat just by taking part in this tournament despite being a club from the second tier of South African football.
"The mood has been very positive in our camp this week as we prepare for the match against CNaPS Sport. I should admit that they are a closed book. We don't know much about them.
"It is imperative for us to score at home and make sure that we keep a clean sheet. That's exactly what we did in our preliminary tie against Saint Louis Suns United. So, clean sheets are very important in such tournaments."
Galaxy head coach Dan 'Dance' Malesela also believes that their African adventure will help his team grow, as they aim to secure promotion to the top-flight Absa Premiership.
"It boosts confidence to say if we can pit ourselves against the best in Africa, then we have a chance of doing something even better at home," Malesela said.
"We have done that before, you know, so if we do well against PSL teams in the Nedbank Cup competition, why not compete better in our own local league the NFD?"
Meanwhile, regional derbies vie for attention
No less than nine regional match-ups are taking place amongst the 16 ties. Perhaps the most mouth-watering are the all-North African battles, led by the clash between Algeria's Paradou and three-time Confed Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia.
The 'Juventus of the Arabs' will travel to Algiers for the first-leg match on Sunday night, as they aim to continue their recent success after defeating Etoile du Sahel in the Tunisian Cup last month.
There is also Egyptian club Pyramids hosting Algeria's CR Belouizdad and Libya's Al Ittihad tackling Hassania Agadir of Morocco, who got as far as the Confed Cup quarterfinals last season.
Saturday's action opens with a West African derby between AS Pelican of Gabon and Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, while a Southern African derby sees Swaziland's Young Buffaloes tackle Johannesburg-based Bidvest Wits,.
AS Kigali (Rwanda) and Proile (Uganda) will meet in an East African clash, and there are three further all-West African ties: Maranatha (Togo) v Djoliba (Mali), ESAE (Benin) v Salitas (Burkina Faso) and Santoba (Guinea) v FC San Pedro (Ivory Coast).
The 16 aggregate winners over the two legs will be joined by the 16 losers from the first round of the CAF Champions League in the Confederation Cup playoffs.
CAF Confederation Cup - First round, first-leg fixtures
Friday 13 September
Al Khartoum (Sudan) v DC Motema Pembe (DR Congo)
Saturday 14 September
AS Pelican (Gabon) v Enugu Rangers (Nigeria)
Young Buffaloes (Swaziland) v Bidvest Wits (South Africa)
Bandari (Kenya) v US Ben Guerdane (Tunisia)
AS Kigali (Rwanda) v Proline (Uganda)
Ashanti Gold (Ghana) v RS Berkane (Morocco)
Maranatha (Togo) v Djoliba (Mali)
Pyramids (Egypt) v CR Belouizdad (Algeria)
Sunday 15 September
Bolton City (Mauritius) v Zanaco (Zambia)
Azam (Tanzania) v Triangle United (Zimbabwe)
TS Galaxy (South Africa) v CnaPS Sport (Madagascar)
Malindi (Zanzibar) v Al Masry (Egypt)
ESAE (Benin) v Salitas (Burkina Faso)
Al Ittihad (Libya) v Hassania Agadir (Morocco)
Santoba (Guinea) v FC San Pedro (Ivory Coast)
Paradou AC (Algeria) v CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)