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SIKHUPHE – CAF Champions League envoys Royal Leopard’s opponents AS Vita’s confidence levels are sky high despite parading a depleted side.

A 44-member delegation, made up of 24 players, arrived yesterday through the King Mswati III International Airport in Sikhuphe ahead of the preliminary round first leg showdown on Saturday.

However, AS Vita are minus gifted defender in DR Congo international Joyce Lomalisa, who was voted into the 2016 Africa XI team, as well as Oscar Machapa from Zimbabwe. They have been rested for the first leg after representing their respective countries at the AFCON finals.

 Led by celebrated coach, Florent Ibenge, who has just steered the DR Congo national outfit to the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations in Gabon, they still stress on the importance of winning away to make the home leg a formality.

Ibenge said Leopard would not be underestimated after winning 1-0 during the 2015 meeting in the second-tier tournament, the CAF Confederations Cup, but said defeat was the last thing in his troops’ mind.
“We’re here for a win,” he bellowed.

“We know it won’t be easy, but we’re ready,” said Ibenge.
AS Vita still boast highly-rated stars, who have made a stop in the country for the Leopard game. Left-footed Cameroon-born midfielder, Atouba Yazid, strudy centre-back, and Obama Ondo Fransisco, are no ordinary players. The former was competing in US’ Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2013.

“Leopard are a good side but we have to win the away leg to avoid pressure at home. Our supporters can be demanding, so we need a cushion in the first leg,” said skipper Lusadiso Basisila-Guy, who starred for the DR Congo side that won the African Nations Championships (CHAN) in the past year.

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