Follow us on
CAF Champions League

Make or break time in Africa

(African Football Media)
Esperance de Tunis's forward Arrison Afful (R) vies with Cameroon's Coton Sport defender Bapidi (R)

Having reached the half-way stage of the CAF Champions League group phase, clubs can ill afford to drop too many points if they want to stay in the hunt for one of the four semi-final places, which go to the top two teams in each section. At this stage of the competition all eight remaining clubs still have a chance of securing one of the coveted places to the last four. The winner of Africa's biggest club competition will represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco later this year.

Match of the week
Recreativo do Libolo - Coton Sport

After winning their opening game in the group phase, the Angolan champions Recreativo went on to lose their two next matches - both on the road. Their opponents from Cameroon lost their first match in Tunisia against Esperance, but then beat Sewe Sports and Recreativo at home. Recreativo played out a 1-1 draw against Sagrada Esperanca in their final league match before turning their attention to the continental competition. Their defence has been outstanding and in Landu they have one of the continent's best goalkeepers on their books. Coton Sport, who have six points from their three Group B matches, are second on goal difference behind Esperance, while Recreativo are bottom with three points along with Sewe Sports.

Other matches
Like Coton Sport, Esperance go into their fourth group game with back-to-back victories and will start their match at home against Sewe Sports as favourites, having beaten the Ivorian club 1-0 on the road on the last matchday. The Blood and Gold are arguably as strong as they were last year when they reached the Champions League final, and they form a nucleus for the Tunisian national side, with eight players called up into the Carthage Eagles' squad for their all-important FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Cape Verde on 7 September.

In Group A, 1995 champions Orlando Pirates could - if results in both matches go their way - become the first club to advance to the semi-finals. They lead the group with seven points, six more than their opponents, Zamalek. Pirates requested that the game be moved because of the turmoil in Egypt, but their request was turned down. Zamalek have won just once against South African opposition in the Champions League - in 1993, when they beat Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at home. The other group game sees a replay of last season's African Super Cup, which Al Ahly won 2-1 against Congolese club AC Leopards. The Red Devils also secured a 1-0 win in Dolisie a fortnight ago, which leaves both clubs currently on four points. The two Group A matches in Egypt will be played behind closed doors due to security concerns.

Player to watch
Although only 21, attacking midfielder Mohamed Ibrahim has been one of the stars in the Zamalek side. He has attracted widespread interest from clubs in Europe and both Spanish club Malaga and Swiss team Sion had bids for the tricky player turned down. He told the official Zamalek website that he had no intention of leaving the club without their approval. Further impressive performances in Zamalek's Champions League campaign will only increase interest in Ibrahim, who is a regular in the Egyptian national team.

The stat 104 –The number of matches that Al Ahly have won in the Champions League and its predecessor the Champions' Cup. The Cairo giants, who have won the competition a record seven times, are at home to AC Leopards this weekend. A victory against the team from Congo would see the Red Devils boasting a 50 per cent win record in the Champions League, having drawn 60 and lost 45 of the 209 matches they have played.

What they said
"The thought that a win on Sunday could give us access to the semi-finals of the African Champions League has kept the entire team focused and determined to play our best football and collect maximum points. It has been a long time since [South Africa] had a team in the semi-finals of this prestigious tournament," Orlando Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathiahead of his side's match in Cairo against Zamalek.

Have your say
Can Recreativo do Libolo become the first team from Angola to qualify for the final of the showpiece of African club football?

Recommended Stories

2014 FIFA World Cup™

Muntari: We will make Ghanaians smile

14 Aug 2013