Caf Champions League quarter-final tie-by-tie guide

Comments (0)
Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca, Caf Champions League, 5 April 2018
Backpagepix
The first legs of the last-eight bouts will take place this weekend

  1. The Caf Champions League quarter-finals
    FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty

    The Caf Champions League quarter-finals

    Following a pulsating group stage, we’ve reached the final eight of the Caf Champions League, as the pick of North African talent—plus two Sub-Saharan African teams—compete to conquer the continent.

    Reigning champions Esperance have a tough assignment away to SC Zamalek, while defeated finalists Wydad Casablanca host another Tunisian side, surprise package Etoile du Sahel.

    In the other bouts, Tout Puissant Mazembe will look to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a strong position after their first leg against Raja Casablanca, while Al-Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns meet in a repeat of last year’s knockout blockbuster.

    Here’s a run down of each of the four quarter-final ties set to take place this weekend.

  2. SC Zamalek vs Esperance
    Backpage Pix

    SC Zamalek vs Esperance

    In the first of the four quarter-finals—all of which are between former champions—Zamalek will be desperate to take a first-leg advantage before returning to Tunisia.

    They can take confidence from their strong record against Esperance, having lost only once against them in seven previous meetings in continental competitions.

    The recent Super Cup victory in Doha earlier this month may also give them the edge, with Achraf Bencharki—once a star of Wydad Casablanca in this competition—netting twice to reaffirm why he still deserves to be considered one of the finest players still playing on African soil.

    “The Egyptian-Tunisian matches are always exciting, and I hope that they’ll come out with a sporting spirit,” Esperance assistant coach Mejdi Traoui told journalists.

    “Zamalek are a great team with clout in Africa, as do Esperance. The Super Cup is over, and we trust our players and our history to be strong in that tournament.”

  3. Raja Casablanca vs Tout Puissant Mazembe
    Cecafa.

    Raja Casablanca vs Tout Puissant Mazembe

    Raja and Mazembe collide for the first time since 2002, when each took three points from each other in the group stage, and this one should make for another evenly matched double header.

    Mazembe striker Jackson Muleka has arguably been the outstanding player in the competition so far, with seven goals, but he’ll have his work cut out against Raja’s Badr Banoun.

    Banoun was part of the Morocco side that won the African Nations Championship in 2018, and as well as being an excellent defender, he’s also weighed in with four goals so far during the Champions League.

    Knowing that Mazembe are fearsome on home soil, it’s imperative Raja secure the win in front of their own fans, or at the very least, prevent the visitors from scoring.

  4. Al-Ahly vs Mamelodi Sundowns
    Backpagepix

    Al-Ahly vs Mamelodi Sundowns

    Sundowns pulled off one of the greatest results in their history in the first leg of the quarter-final between these two last term, as they smashed Ahly 5-0 in Pretoria to take an insurmountable lead to Egypt.

    Even though Walid Azaro responded for the Red Devils in Alexandria, Downs’ first-leg masterpiece—including a superb showing from Themba Zwane—was enough to take them through.

    Heading away in the first leg, they’ll face a tougher task to advance as comfortably, while influential goalkeeper and captain Denis Onyango remains a doubt due to a hamstring injury.

    Anele Ngcongca is also doubtful, although Pitso Mosimane can be hopeful that both Ricardo Nascimento and Anthony Laffor will be back in contention.

    Mosimane has also complained about the state of the surface at the Petro Sport Stadium, which will be another concern for the Brazilians to contend with.

  5. Wydad Casablanca vs Etoile du Sahel

    Wydad Casablanca vs Etoile du Sahel

    Wydad will be absolutely desperate to go the distance in this year’s competition, having lost the final to Esperance in such controversial circumstances last term.

    They impressed in the group stages, only losing to Sundowns in their final group game when progression had been secured, although they’re not the force they were when they clinched the title in 2018.

    In Walid El-Karti, Badie Aouk and Kazadi Kasengu, they boast the attacking talent to see off Etoile du Sahel, but even their prowess cannot completely compensate for the disorganisation behind the scenes.

    Wydad are currently on their third manager since the start of 2020, with Juan Carlos Garrido appointed as Sebastien Desabre’s successor following his departure earlier this week.

    The Spaniard knows ESS well, having been their manager until his dismissal in February!