THE CAF Champions League (CCL) will be narrowed down to the final eight clubs this midweek when the return leg matches of the second round are staged over Tuesday and Wednesday.
This represents the first time that CAF club matches have been scheduled for a midweek, with the only other times that games have been played outside of a Friday, Saturday or Sunday due to a postponement because of bad weather or other logistical problems.
This midweek’s matches see several big names in trouble, including defending champions TP Mazembe, who find themselves 2-0 down ahead of hosting Wydad Casablanca in Lubumbashi on Wednesday afternoon. Reigning Confederation Cup champions Etoile du Sahel look set to ‘drop’ back into that competition after losing 3-0 away to Nigeria’s Enyimba in the first leg. The Tunisians will need a stunning result at home at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse on Wednesday to continue in the ‘premier’ tournament.
Tuesday’s action sees Zesco United looking to wrap up progression as they host Stade Malien. The Zambians claimed an impressive 3-1 away win in the first leg in Bamako and will be confident of adding to their advantage in Ndola.
Ivory Coast giants ASEC Mimosas and Cairo heavyweights Zamalek travel to Al Ahly Tripoli and MO Bejaia respectively – both with a 2-0 lead from the first leg – while the clash between 2014 winners ES Setif and Sudan’s El Merreikh promises to be a thriller, with the teams locked at 2-2 ahead of the return game in Algeria.
Al Ahly will be targeting a home win when they host Tanzania’s ever-improving Young Africans (the teams drew 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam in the first leg), while South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns need a victory against DR Congo’s AS Vita after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the first leg in Kinshasa.
The eight aggregate winners will advance into the group stage of the Champions League, while the eight losers will move into the playoff round of the Confederation Cup.