Leopards have proved successful hunters in the 2012 CAF Confederation Cup with five victims and they will be seeking more prey this weekend when the second round kicks off.
Royal Leopard of Swaziland entertain 2011 runners-up Club Africain of Tunisia, while Black Leopards of South Africa and AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville visit Nigeria to confront Warri Wolves and Heartland respectively.
Although the odds are stacked against any of the Leopards making the mid-year play-offs against CAF Champions League second round losers, they have sprung too many surprises to be written off.
Swazi clubs are usually little more than cannon fodder in CAF competitions, but a Royal Leopard squad composed of serving policemen, captained by midfielder Mxolisi Mthethwa and coached by Zambian Texan Phiri has proved the exception.
After grounding Zambian air force side Red Arrows, they caused an even bigger upset by defeating US Tshinkunku 2-1 in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Mthethwa snatching the late winner.
Club Africain, losers on penalties to Moroccans Moghreb Fes in the previous final, have changed coaches after poor domestic results with Frenchman Patrick Liewig succeeding Algerian Abdelhak Benchikha.
South African Premiership relegation candidates Black Leopards have found Africa a rewarding distraction from the struggle to survive in the richest national football league on the continent after being promoted.
A Thabo Mongalo brace in Zimbabwe eliminated Motor Action after Leopards had drawn at home and the anticipated capitulation of the northern province side did not materialise in Congo DR as they held Lupopo having built a first-leg lead.
Leopards will be guided by Zimbabwe-born technical director Sunday Chidzambwa because coach Vladislav Heric has a phobia about injections and assistant Abel Makhubela is attending a course in Germany.
Warri eliminated FC Kallon of Sierra Leone in the last round, are coached by Belgian Maurice Cooreman and have national squad members in goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim, defender Azubuike Egwueke, midfielder Uche Ossai and striker Sunday Mba.
AC Leopards pulled off the biggest shock of the second-tier club competition this year by overcoming a home loss to twice title-holders CS Sfaxien with a 2-0 victory in Tunisia courtesy of an Eric Niamba brace.
Niamba and Losseni Komara have contributed three goals each for the club from western city Dolisie and are set to pose the biggest threats to Heartland, who squeezed past US Haut Nkam of Cameroon via a Brendan Ogbu stoppage-time goal.
Uganda striker Emmanuel Okwi was another last-gasp match-winner in the first round, scoring the goal that took Simba of Tanzania into the last 16 at the expense of 2009 Confederation Cup runners-up Entente Setif from Algeria.
Simba host African rookies Al Ahly Shendy of Sudan, who won at home and away against Ferroviario Maputo of Mozambique with Nadir El Tayeb netting two of the three goals.
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