Going into this season's CAF Champions League, Al Ahly had won a record eight titles, but if the Red Devils want to add a ninth, they will have to make history. The goalless draw against Wydad Casablanca saw the Cairo giants pick up their first point in the group phase. However, never before in the history of the competition has a club that had just one point after their first three games, advanced to the semi-finals.
In Group B, Mamelodi Sundowns are turning into surprise packages and remain on course for their first semi-final appearance since 2001, when they went on to qualify for the final. The winner of the event will represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year in Japan.
Match of the week
*Zamalek 1-2 Mamelodi Sundowns*
Having beaten ES Setif away in their first match, Sundowns were disappointed to see the result annulled after the Algerian club were thrown out of the competition. But that result gave the South African club the confidence of competing in North Africa, and the visitors took the lead in the 17th minute after Tiyani Mabunda scored his first Champions League goal when he was first to a rebound off the post from a shot by Zimbabwe international Khama Billiat. The White Knights drew level before the break after a defensive lapse allowed Mohamed Ibrahim to score into an empty net, but Zamalek's hopes of another three points were dashed midway through the second half when Billiat scored the winner for his side to take Sundowns to six points. Zamalek are on three points, while Nigerian side Enyimba have yet to get a result.
Having lost their two opening matches, Al Ahly were up against the wall as they took on North African rivals Wydad Casablanca in Alexandria. Although officials allowed fans into the stadium, the home side failed to find a breakthrough against John Toshack's team. They were also unlucky when Walid Soliman's second half goal was controversially adjudged to have been offside, leaving the final score goalless. Ahly's coach Martin Jol lamented after the game that they had missed striker Malick Evouna, who only joined the Cairo giants from Wydad last year, but was sold-on to a Chinese club earlier in the week. The draw keeps Ahly rooted to the bottom of Group A with just one point, while Wydad remain in first place on seven.
The other Group A game saw Zambian underdogs ZESCO United beat the 1998 champions ASEC Mimosas. The home side went into the match with an unblemished record in the Levy Mwanawasa stadium in Ndola and they made their intentions known with two goals within the space of four minutes in the first half when Jackson Mwanza and John Chingandu found the back of the net in the 32nd and 36th minute. After the break, ASEC pushed forward and were rewarded midway through the second half when Youssouf Dao scored, but any hopes of a dramatic comeback ended a few minutes later as striker Idriss Mbombo scored after some impressive individual skill. The three points see ZESCO move second in the group on six points, ahead of ASEC on three.
Player of the week
When ZESCO United realised that they would be competing in this year's Champions League, they looked towards boosting their squad and one of the players on their radar was Congo DR-born striker Idriss Mbombo, who had just scored over 20 goals for Kabwe Warriors as they returned to the top flight. Warriors, however, were not interested in selling the striker to a local club – at any price. They did, however, agree that the player could go on loan to ZESCO to help them in their Champions League campaign, and the investment has worked well for them as Mbombo has scored five goals already in the competition, including his team's third goal in Saturday's 3-1 victory against ASEC Mimosas – just minutes after the visitors had pulled one back.
*The stat 7 – *The lowest number of points that a team has amassed but still finished in a top-two position and advanced to the semi-finals. Record champions Al Ahly will need to win at least two of their remaining three matches to reach that figure if they want to keep their hopes of securing a ninth title alive. Six clubs have managed to go through with eight points, including Ahly (2010) and Wydad (2012).
What they said
“We are still competing in the CAF Champions League. I have not lost hope. We are working now to avoid previous mistakes and to return to winning ways. We dominated the game. I think it was one-sided game," Al Ahly coach Martin Jol, after his side were held to a goalless draw at home by Wydad.
*Have your say *Since the competition changed its format in 1997 and introduced a group phase, only one Zambian club has managed to reach that stage. In 2009 ZESCO United managed to finish third in their group with eight points. Can the Ndola-based club go one better this time around and advance to the semi-finals?