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Etoile, Esperance, Mazembe eye CAF last-eight places
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 26 - 07 - 2018

JOHANNESBURG, July 26, 2018 (News Wires) - Etoile Sahel and Esperance of Tunisia and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo could secure CAF Champions League quarter-finals places this weekend with two games to spare.
A home win for 2007 champions Etoile over Mbabane Swallows of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) will guarantee entry into the knockout phase of the elite African club competition.
The same scenario applies to five-time title-holders Mazembe, but they have what appears a much tougher task away to 1976 champions Mouloudia Alger of Algeria.
Twice champions Esperance will book a last-eight spot provided they win away to Kampala Capital City Authority of Uganda and Al Ahly of Egypt defeat Township Rollers in Botswana.
Group A
First-time qualifiers Kampala Capital City Authority blew a two-goal lead last week when losing at Esperance and hope to turn the tables with home
advantage. The Ugandans have exceeded expectations, recovering from a defeat by Rollers to beat Ahly and be deprived of a draw in Tunisia when Bilel Mejri snatched a late winner.
Ahly, playing their first CAF match under new French coach Patrice Carteron, were far superior to group debutants Rollers in Egypt, and another win will set them up to qualify.
Group B
Mazembe, the second most successful CAF club after Ahly, are the only side boasting a perfect three-win record at the halfway stage of the mini-leagues phase.
But they pressed in vain for 88 minutes at home to Mouloudia before Elia Meschak scored the only goal, which suggests winning again will be difficult in Algiers.
Former champions Entente Setif of Algeria scraped past Moroccan visitors Difaa el Jadida last week and at least a point on the road would keep alive their hopes of a last-eight slot.
Group C
After draws at Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Horoya of Guinea, defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco are well positioned to finish first.
Veteran Tunisia-born Wydad coach Faouzi Benzarti sees "no reason why Wydad cannot retain the title" and beating Horoya in Casablanca will reinforce that view.
Sundowns suffered a shock loss at Port of Togo and must win the return match near Pretoria to have any hope of pipping Horoya for the second qualification place.
Group D
Etoile, whose 2007 Champions League final triumph over Al Ahly was one of the greatest shocks in the 54-year competition, have dominated the weakest group from matchday 1.
They hammered Swallows in eSwatini with Karim Aouadhi, Maher Hannachi and Amine Chermiti scoring as the north Africans exploited their set-piece superiority.
A win for hosts Primeiro Agosto of Angola or Zesco United of Zambia in Luanda could ultimately decide which of them progresses, almost certainly as runners-up.

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