TP Mazembe’s quest for a quarter-final berth is under severe threat from Algerian champions CS Constantine whom they host in a Group C match on Saturday.
Leading the group by two points, Constantine arrives in Lumbumbashi needing just a point to reach the quarter-finals, while Mazembe, on position two, need to win this match.
In the event of a draw or defeat, Mazembe will have to pray that third-placed Club Africain, whom they lead by just a point, lose or play to a draw at home to Ismaily.
But with Mazembe having won all their home games, they face a Constantine side that appears to have lost its steam of late, having blown a chance to qualify for the next round with a game to spare.
Last weekend’s 1-0 home loss to Club Africain was Constantine’s first ever defeat in this campaign and they were also held 1-1 by struggling Ismaily two weeks earlier.
Mazembe forward Kevin Mondeko is among the tournament’s goal-scorers while veteran Tresor Mputu is enjoying some good form.
Constantine, on the other hand, have no defined striker who has been outstanding although they have managed eight goals in five games.
In another Group C match, Club Africain are entertaining hopes of progressing to the next stage as they host basement side Ismaily.
Club Africain’s future might not be entirely in their hands but victory at Stade Olympique de Rades is a must-win for them.
Facing an Ismaily side that is already out of the tournament with no win in five games, Club Africain are praying that they win while Constantine beat or draw with Mazembe.
Victor Zvunka’s Club Africain are high in confidence as they go into this match smart from an away victory over Constantine last weekend.
Also with striker Ghazi Ayadi in top form and amongst the top-scorers, the Tunisians have a player to largely rely on for a crucial win.
Elsewhere in Group D, another continental heavyweight Al Ahly are staring the elimination door but they still have chances to advance when they welcome leaders JS Saoura to Borg El Arab Stadium.
The Egyptian giants have lost their last two games, which has seen them lose the top spot and they are now in the second position with just a point behind Saoura.
But with the same number of points (seven) with third-placed AS Vita, Al Ahly’s life is in danger.
Victory is what the eight-time champions need to seal a place in the quarter-finals. But this week their camp was rocked by a goalkeeping crisis that has seen teenage gloveman Mostafa Shobier being included in the squad to face Saoura although he is not registered for the competition.
Aly Lotfy is certain to start in place of first choice Mohamed El-Shennawy who despite recovering from injury will start from the bench.
El-Shennawy’s understudy Sherif Ekramy is already out of the squad injured.
“We have full confidence in Lotfy”, Ahly goalkeepers coach Tarek Suleiman told CafOnline.
“He is a good goalkeeper, and can be up to the responsibility. El-Shennawy would be ready before the game and I believe he would be on the bench.”
Despite leading the group, Saoura risk the possibility of being eliminated if they lose to Al Ahly, while AS Vita beat Simba away. In this group, all teams enter Matchday 6 still with a chance of progressing to the next stage.
AS Vita will be in Dar-es-Salaam to face Simba, who appear invincible at home where they have beaten Al Ahly and Saoura.
Both teams need nothing short of victory and the losing side will not advance to the last eight.
A draw will eliminate the two sides if Al Ahly and Saoura also share spoils.
But Simba’s Ghanaian midfielder James Kotei feels the Tanzanians have the pedigree to go further in the tournament.
“Together we win. We have what it takes to advance to the quarterfinals and we have to beat AS Vita to realise that objective. We have the players to do the job. It won’t be easy but we are poised for victory,” Kotei told Cafonline.
While Simba have been strong at home, Vita arrives at Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium buoyed by the form of striker Jean-Marc Makusu and the fact that they hammered their hosts 5-0 in the reverse fixture.