Medeama will shock north African rivals – Toni Aubynn
The board chairman of Medeama SC, Dr Toni Aubynn, says his team are not frightened by the stature of their rivals in the CAF Champions League group stage but would strive to make an impact despite being considered as underdogs in the competition.
The Ghanaian champions were pooled in Group D of Africa's premier inter-club competition alongside three strong North Africa teams— Al Ahly SC of Egypt, Algeria’s CR Belouizdad and Club Africain of Tunisia.
Dr Aubynn told the Graphic Sports last Friday after the draws that Medeama's initial target was to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition and once that milestone was achieved, Coach Evans Adotey and his players will set their sights on new objectives.
He admitted that the North Africa teams were no pushovers in continental competitions, but having managed to reach the group stage, it meant Medeama were also a strong force and were ready to battle any of the teams.
Al Ahly are Africa's most successful side in continental competitions having won the Champions League a record 11 times in addition to one CAF Confederation Cup title and four Cup Winners' Cup titles.
Similarly, Club Africain won the Champions League (then African Cup of Champions Clubs) in 1991 and are 13-time Tunisia champions.
As 10-time Algerian Pro Ligue 1 winners, CR Belouizdad have never won a CAF competition (their best participation was a semi-finals place in the 1996 African Cup Winners' Cup) but have a lot of experience in continental competitions.
While acknowledging the impressive track records of their opponents, with Al Ahly as the most successful team in African competitions, Club Africain's past Champions League victory, and CR Belouizdad's domestic success, Dr Aubynn maintained unwavering faith in Medeama's ability to compete at the highest level.
“At this stage, you must feel belonging to the big boys. You must feel equal to any team that is in your group and be determined to overcome them so we believe we’re going to get to the top level of the group.
“Obviously we are the underdogs and there is no debate to that because this is the first time we are going into this competition; Al Ahly are a grandfather in this and so if you are going to play them, naturally you are an underdog. We are going to prove that being underdog is not a constraint,” Dr Aubynn stated.
He highlighted the changing dynamics of world football, where past dominance no longer guarantees continued success, believing firmly that Medeama had a legitimate chance of securing one of the top two spots in the group, advancing to the quarter-finals, and making a significant impact in the competition.
“We respect every team but I keep saying that this club has won it many times so obviously, they would win it again. Football is full of surprises so those dominant situations are no longer what pertains now so we think that it could be anybody’s game.”
The group stage matches are scheduled to start on Friday, November 25, 2023 through March 1, 2024 and the board chairman was emphatic that they would come out of the group.