Ahly close to CAF Champions League last-eight place

Johannesburg – Record eight-time CAF Champions League trophy-holders Al
of Egypt could this Tuesday become the first club to secure a 2018/2019
quarter-finals place.

A win for the Cairo Red Devils away to Simba SC of Tanzania
— a side they have already caned 5-0 this month — would lift them to 10
points from four matches in Group D.

And that total will guarantee Ahly a last-eight slot unless
bottom-of-the-table JS Saoura of Algeria end a three-match winless run by
overcoming Congolese visitors V Club.

AFP Sport previews matchday 4 of a Champions League restored
to 16 clubs after Ismaily of Egypt were reinstated at the weekend when a
crowd-trouble ban was overturned.    

Group A

Recent African champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and
Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa can all but seal progress to the knockout
phase if they collect maximum points.  

Wydad should have little difficulty defeating Lobi Stars of
Nigeria in Rabat having already done so in west Africa thanks to a Mohamed
Nahiri penalty.

Sundowns were far superior to ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory
Coast when winning 3-1 in Pretoria with Argentine debutant Emiliano Tade among
the goals.

But Abidjan holds bitter memories for the Pretoria club with
their last visit ending in a humiliating 6-1 hiding from Africa Sports, the
great domestic rivals of ASEC.

Group B

Reigning African champions Esperance of Tunisia have thrown
away an advantage over Orlando Pirates of South Africa after bringing forward
the Tunis kick-off time by six hours. 

Instead of a 2000 local time (1900 GMT) start and cold
conditions that Pirates believed could affect their performance, the visitors
can expect mild mid-afternoon weather.  

Esperance will also lack support at Stade el Menzah with the
club serving the second half of a two-match ban over crowd trouble last season.

Should the co-leaders draw, as they did in a cagey Soweto
clash this month, Horoya of Guinea can climb from third place to first by
overcoming FC Platinum of Zimbabwe in Conakry.

Group C

TP Mazembe of DR Congo are away to Club Africain of Tunisia,
the team they humiliated 8-0 this month for a record Champions League
group-stage victory.

The north Africans reacted to the debacle by claiming the
Congolese had drugged them by injecting substances into their food in

Five-time African champions Mazembe then pointed out that
Africain had chosen their hotel and brought food, water and a cook from

The Congolese said they expect “fair play” in
Rades, a plea they hope will be heeded by the often troublesome supporters of
Club Africain.

Group D

Ahly banged five goals past Simba in Egypt despite lacking
nine potential first choices, including loanee Ramadan Sobhi from English
Premier League strugglers Huddersfield Town.

But the Egyptians need only check the record books to know
the return match in Indian Ocean city Dar es Salaam may be far more difficult
— they lost 2-1 there on a previous visit.

After successive five-goal beatings, Simba hope Meddie
Kagere and Clatous Chama can rediscover the form that delivered nine goals
between them earlier in the competition.     

Saoura came from two goals down to hold V Club in an
intimidating Kinshasa fortress and maximum points at home against the Congolese
would throw open the race for second place.

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