Football

CAF Champions League quarter final race heats up for Match Day five

Peter Shalulile and Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate against Al Ahly
  • Only Petro de Luanda and Wydad Club Athletic have earned tickets
  • Mamelodi Sundowns need just a point in Sudan
  • Holders Ahly in danger of elimination

The race towards qualification into the quarter finals of the CAF Champions League continues with Match Day five fixtures this weekend.

All group leaders will progress in the penultimate round of matches if they manage victories this weekend.

In group A, Mamelodi Sundowns will need only a point when they play away against Al Hilal to book a place in the quarters. They sit top of the group with 10 points, six ahead of Hilal, defending champions Al Ahly and Al Merrikh heading to the penultimate round of matches.

The Brazilians who completed a home and away sweep of holders Ahly are high in confidence, facing a Hilal side they beat 1-0 when they met in the first leg.

Hilal have to win against Sundowns to retain any hopes of qualification and they come into the tie fresh from winning 1-0 against Merrikh in the derby last weekend.

Meanwhile, defending champions Ahly will be taking on Merrikh, in a match that carries equal importance for both sides. Fate is in Ahly’s hand as they are second in the group, but must win to retain their hopes of qualification.

Ahly won 3-2 when the two sides met in the first leg in Cairo, but they will be wary as they had been leading 2-0 before the Sudanese side drew 2-2. A late own goal salvaged them victory in this tie.

Coach Pitso Mosimane remains hugely confident they have what it takes to beat the Sudanese side and book a slot in the last eight.

In Group B, leaders Raja Club Athletic will be out to seal a spot in the quarter finals when they take on AmaZulu in Durban on Friday, looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss to Horoya in Guinea.

CAF Champions League

Rachid Taoussi, the Esperance coach feeds instructions

The Algerian outfit were leading 1-0 against Horoya away from home and were well on course to sealing a place in the last eight, but conceded two goals before halftime to suffer their first defeat in the tournament.

But, they will look to bounce back against a tough AmaZulu side which has not lost at home in tehcontinent in their debut season. They beat Usuthu 1-0 when they met in the first leg in Casablanca.

A win or a draw for Raja will see them qualify for the quarters while AmaZulu who are on six points must win to keep their hopes alive. A draw though, will keep them in contention.

But this will all depend on the other game in Group B where ES Setif who are placed second, also on six points play at home against Horoya.

Setif need a win to ensure they remain second. Horoya on the other hand are also in a must win situation to give themselves hope. The victory against Raja last weekend earned them three points and if they stun Setif in Algiers, then they will ensure they have hope heading to the final group game.

In Group C, the race is between Tunisia’s Esperance and Algeria’s CR Belouizdad, both on eight points.

CAF Champions League

Esperance players celebrate a goal in a past match

Esperance need just a point when they play away to already eliminated Jwaneng Galaxy in Botswana. But, the Tunisian giants will be going for a double against a side they thrashed 4-0 when they met in the first leg in Rades.

Radhi Jaidi, the Esperance coach says they will not underrate Jwaneng, who will be keen to sign out with a statement victory. The tactician says they will give their all to earn victory and confirm their place in the last eight.

Belouizdad too will guarantee themselves a place in the last eight with a draw, but they come up against a very tough Etoile du Sahel side who are in desperate need of victory.

A win for Etoile in Algiers will boost their hopes as they will move to six points, and leave everything to play for in the final round of group matches.

Group D is the only concluded piece of business, but Petro de Luanda and Wydad Athletic Club will battle for a place top of the pile.

Wydad players celebrate a goal in a past match

Angolan side Petro currently sit top on 10 points will be at home against already eliminated Zamalek.

The Egyptian giants were eliminated from the group phase, the biggest casualty of this round of matches, after losing 1-0 to Wydad. They will be travelling to Luanda with the aim of finishing with some sense of pride.

But, Petro have a bone to pick with Zamalek and are out to show they are the better side. When they met in the first leg in Alexandria, Petro dropped a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2.

Meanwhile, Wydad will be away to another already eliminated side, Sagrada Esperanca in Luanda. Sagrada have just picked one point in four matches and are looking to walk away with pride.

Wydad, who are on nine points in the group are looking to cash in on maximum points and hope Petro drop points for them to swap places in the table.

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