CAF Champions League quarter-finals get under way on Friday Last eight features some of Africa’s biggest names All-Tunisian encounter and two derbies on the bill With the exception of 2016 champions Mamelodi Sundowns, all the sides who have won the CAF Champions League since 2005 have made it through to this year’s quarter-finals: Al Ahly, Wydad Athletic Club, TP Mazembe, Esperance de Tunis, Etoile Sportive du Sahel, and ES Setif. Joining those six continental heavyweights in this year’s last eight are Guinea’s Horoya AC and Angolan outfit Primeiro de Agosto.
Tunisia is the only nation with two sides still in contention, namely Esperance and Etoile, who were pitched together at the draw held on 3 September, which also threw up a Maghreb derby between Algerias Etoile and Wydad of Morocco. The meeting between Primeiro de Agosto and TP Mazembe also involves teams from two neighbouring countries. In the other tie in the round, meanwhile, the mighty Al Ahly of Egypt take on Horoya, who qualified from the group phase at the expense of the Sundowns.
The winners of the competition will book a place at the FIFA Club World Cup between 12 and 22 December in the United Arab Emirates, the draw for which took place a few days ago.
Horoya AC-Al Ahly (14 Sep)
ES Setif-Wydad Athletic Club (14 Sep)
Primeiro de Agosto-TP Mazembe (15 Sep)
Esperance de Tunis-Etoile Sportive du Sahel (15 Sep)
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Horoya AC have never won the competition, while opponents Al Ahly have lifted the trophy eight times in all. The Egyptians have gone six years since their last continental title, though that is exactly the time that elapsed between their two previous wins, in 2006 and 2012. A sign of things to come, perhaps?
The duel between Wydad and ES Setif respectively pits the best defence in the competition (two goals conceded) against the least effective (nine goals conceded). While the Casablanca side are one of three unbeaten teams left in the tournament, ES Setif are the only team to have been beaten twice. While the statistics are not in their favour, the Algerians will be buoyed by the fact that they have just taken over at the top of their league courtesy of a 3-2 win over CR Belouizdad, while Wydad slipped to a surprise 2-1 defeat to OC Safi in their last domestic outing.
Primeiro de Agosto have scored only six goals to date, fewer than any of the other quarter-finalists, while quarter-final opponents TP Mazembe have outscored everyone with ten. The Angolans will need to keep a close eye on Tout Puissant striker Ben Malango, who is the competitions leading scorer with seven goals. Primeiro de Agosto front men Mongo Bokamba and Jacques Bitumba both hail from Congo DR, adding a little extra spice to the tie.
The rivalry between Esperance de Tunis and Etoile du Sahel is one of the biggest in Tunisian football. In their 157 previous meetings, Esperance have recorded 60 wins to Etoiles 52. Les Sang et Or won 3-2 the last time the two sides met, in the league in February, a match marred by three red cards. Esperance are unbeaten in their four previous Champions League encounters with Etoile, winning two and drawing two.