Dikwena confidently jet off for CAFCC

CAF Confederation Cup

This first-leg tie will be played at Stade Robert Champroux, a venue with an artificial turf, while the return fixture takes place next weekend in Rustenburg.

Though they will play nine games this month, Stars coach Cavin Johnson was in a good space as they left.

READ: 10-man Dikwena edge Baroka in Nedbank Cup

“We managed to find some video footage of them [AS Thanda] seeing they are a team that dropped from the [CAF] Champions League and I feel they will be similar to the Ugandan team [Vipers FC] that we played in the previous round of the [CAF Confed Cup],” Johnson tells KickOff.com.

“They are quick, have good technique, play a 3-5-2 with their wingbacks going up and down. Since they have big guys up front they also make use of the long ball.

"So I expect this to be much similar to the Ugandans though the plus is that this time we will not be playing on a hill like we did in Uganda. Luckily we also have an astroturf [pitch] at our base so the issue of the surface will not even [come up], though I have noticed the astroturf in other countries is not similar to ours.

"Since we arrive [in Cote d'Ivoire] on Thursday it means we will at least have two days to train so the distance is not a factor,” says Johnson.

Though their fixture schedule is punishing this month, Johnson feels balancing his squad will not be an issue as they will spread the workload accordingly.

“With all due respect, I appreciate the load because I think we have too many breaks in our season. We want to follow the English calendar yet we have a Christmas break, the English League is a 'Jurassic Park'. So what happened is that we registered about 25 players for CAF in December last year and then during the transfer window added about six players so we have a balance of seven to nine players who cannot play in CAF but are eligible for all local competitions. I don’t want to complain because a lot of the times we want players to be active,” he notes.

Having already played Bidvest Wits and Baroka so far this month, Dikwena will still have to deal with AS Tanda in the two legs, then Cape Town City, Polokwane City, Free State Stars and Ajax Cape Town in three different competitions before the end of April.

AS Tanda, a town in eastern Ivory Coast in the Gontougo Region but who play their CAF home games in Abidjan to meets the continental body’s standards, are an emerging force in Ivory Coast’s domestic football, where they are two-time champions.