The Al Ahly vs Esperance encounter has revenge written all over it as it’s a repeat of last year’s quarter-final.
Both teams are strong favourites to go through to the knockout stages, but how they start the campaign will determine if they’re good enough to progress.
Despite going four-and-a-half years without winning the Caf Champions League trophy, Al Ahly cannot be taken for granted, especially when they’re playing in front of their home fans.
The Egyptians are brimming with confidence having recently won the Egyptian Premier League with a game to spare, and it will take some special to bring them down to earth.
In addition, Al Ahly have lost just three of their last 20 Caf Champions League matches, sending a strong message that they’re indeed the undisputed kings of African football.
However, they meet a team as equally good and confident as them both domestically and continentally in Esperance, who were crowned league champions in Tunisia last month.
They could still be smarting from their 2012 final loss to Al Ahly in the same competition, but they will have to put emotions aside and focus on getting the better of their opponents.
Al Ahly are unbeaten in their last seven matches against Esperance in all competitions, but the Tunis giants have lost just once in their last 12 Caf Champions League encounters.
Interestingly, Al Ahly, who boast eight Caf Champions League titles to Esperance’s two, have suffered just one defeat in their last 13 home matches in the competition.
Esperance will be banking on their improving away record to try and topple Al Ahly. They are unbeaten on the road in their last six Caf Champions League matches.
Elsewhere, Township Rollers will get their first taste of Caf Champions League group stage football when they welcome KCCA of Uganda to Gaborone.
The Botswana giants have previously failed to get passed the qualifying rounds, but they managed to achieve that this season, thanks to coach Nikola Kazavic, who continues to be linked with a possible move away from the club.
They will look to start the campaign on the front foot given that they have been drawn in the same group with former African champions, Al Ahly and Esperance.
KCCA will also be cutting their teeth in the Caf Champions League group stages.
These two teams certainly have nothing to lose, but they still have a lot to play for, especially as this could be a foundation they could use to build on next season.