CAF Champions League quarterfinals take shape as six teams secure qualification

* They are defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire’s Asec Mimosas, DRC’s TP Mazembe, Tanzania’s Young Africans

* As well as COSAFA sides South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Angola’s Petro de Luanda

* Two quarterfinal slots remain for the taking in Match Day 6 scheduled for March 1-2

Maravi Express

Defending champions of CAF Champions League, Al Ahly of Egypt Ahly joined by five strong contenders in quarter-finals of the prestigious African club competition who final two slots remain for the taking in Match Day 6 scheduled for March 1-2.

Advertisement

The other five quarterfinalists are Côte d’Ivoire side Asec Mimosas, DRC’s TP Mazembe, Tanzania’s Young Africans as well as Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) sides South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Angola’s Petro de Luanda.

The six secured their place in this season’s CAF Champions League quarterfinals after some nail-biting round of Match Day 5 fixtures that took place on Friday and Saturday as the Egyptian giants, Al Ahly remain on course to their title defense after a 1-0 victory over Ghana’s Medeama saw them through to the exciting knockout phase of the competition with a game to spare.

South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, who are also the African Football League champions, booked their place in knockout stages with a comfortable 2-0 victory away at Mauritanian club Nouadhibou on Saturday evening through first-half goals from Grant Kekana and Themba Zwane.

Angola’s Petro Atletico de Luanda booked their place despite being held to a 0-0 draw away to Sudanese side Al Hilal in their penultimate Group C clash on Friday evening.

The result in Benghazi, where Hilal are hosting their home matches, means the Angolan champions progress to the last eight of the competition, having established an unassailable lead at the top of their group.

It marks a significant achievement for Petro, who are enjoying fine season in the Champions League campaign while Al Hilal still have hopes of joining them in the last eight — as they sit second on five points, level with Tunisian club Esperance.

The two sides meet next Friday in a straight shootout for the other qualifying spot behind Petro while other games are CR Belouizdad vs Medeama and Al Ahly v Young Africans (Friday, March 1); Pyramids vs Nouadhibou, Mamelodi Sundowns vs TP Mazembe, Simba vs Jwaneng, Wydad vs Asec Minosas, ES Tunis vs Al-Hilal and Petro de Luanda vs ES Sahel (Saturday, March 2.

Of the current six teams that have officially booked their places, only two are yet to taste continental success, with Al Ahly having won it 11 times; Asec Mimosas (1), Mamelodi Sundowns (1) and TP Mazembe (5).

Former African Champions and FIFA Club World Cup finalists, TP Mazembe of DRC secured their place in the quarter-finals thanks to their 3-0 win over Pyramids of Egypt.

The match, held in Lubumbashi, saw Mazembe seal the decisive victory with goals from Joel Beya Glody Likonza and Patient Mwamba sealing the win and with this triumph, the DR Congo club surged to second place in Group A with 10 points.

In contrast, Pyramids bid farewell to any hopes hopes of advancing with four points, having one remaining match against Nouadhibou, the Mauritanian champions.

The qualification of the six teams officially sets up a grand closing to the group stages of the competition in what is sure to be a dramatic race to securing the last two available spots.

Advertisement

Since Mamelodi Sundowns and TP Mazembe are through in Group A, while Group D was decided by Ahly and Young Africans’ respective wins, means that the two remaining places will be contested in Group B and C.

In Group B, Morocco’s Wydad AC who had a rather slow start to their Group Stage campaign injected life into the title ambitions with a 1-0 win over Jwaneng Galaxy in Botswana – a result that sees them tied on six points with Tanzania’s Simba AC, who face Jwaneng Galaxy in next week’s final round, while Wydad take on the high-flying Asec Mimosas.

In Group C, Petro de Luanda’s qualification leaves the race for a second place to be contested by Esperance Sportive de Tunis and Al-Hilal. Interestingly, the two sides face each other head on in a fixture that promises to produce fireworks in Tunis on Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, Simba of Tanzania clinched a hard-fought goalless draw in their visit to ASEC Mimosa’s home turf in Abidjan on Friday — keeping their dreams of progression alive in the competition.—Reporting by CAFonline

Advertisement