North African sides show true colours
© AFP

All three North African teams remaining in the CAF Champions League picked up maximum points from their group games on the fourth matchday as Al Ahly and Esperance closed in on the semi-finals, while Zamalek kept alive their hopes of reaching the last four. The winners of the two groups and the second-placed teams will advance to the next round, with the champions earning the right to represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year in Morocco.

Game of the week
Esperance 1-0 Sewe Sports
Last year's beaten finalists Esperance took a giant step towards the semi-finals of the competition with a 1-0 victory against Sewe Sports In Group B. The win, their third on the trot after opening the group stage with a defeat, takes the Blood and Gold to nine points – five more than third-placed Recreativo do Libolo. Algerian international Anther Yahia scored the all-important goal on the hour against the side from Côte d'Ivoire. The visitors went all-out for an equaliser after Yahia's goal, but again – as they did in their match at home a fortnight ago – they could find no way past goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia. A point from one of their two final matches should see the Tunisian side into the semi-finals for the tenth time in the last two decades.

Other matches
In Group A, the competition's record winners Al Ahly pulled even with table-topping Orlando Pirates on seven points with a 2-1 victory against Congolese side AC Leopards, whom they had already defeated 1-0 in the away leg. A late reversal of the decision to play the game behind closed doors allowed a few thousand fans to watch the game in the El-Gouna Stadium. Unfortunately even though the number was restricted, there were some problems and there was a delay to the kick-off. However, the seven-time champions came out of the starting-blocks much faster as Abdullah El-Said gave them an early lead, which Walid Soliman doubled midway through the second half with a wonderful curler into the top corner. AC Leopards, who saw Ulrich Mombo's penalty saved shortly before the break, pulled one back through Sidoine Beaullia six minutes from the end. They came close to equalising in injury time but failed to score, leaving Leopards stuck on four points.

In the other Group A game, Zamalek, who are trying for a sixth title, kept their hopes alive by beating 1995 champions Orlando Pirates 2-1 to secure their first Champions League group stage win since 2008. The White Knights took an early lead when Ahmed Eid scored from the spot just six minutes into the game, but Lennox Bacela equalised in the 33rd minute. Salah Soliman gave Zamalek the all-important second goal early in the second half to take the Cairo giants to four points - three behind Pirates and local rivals Al Ahly. Recreativo Libolo and Coton Sport, who are chasing Esperance in Group B, played to a 1-1 draw in Angola - a result that will please the Cameroonian visitors more than the Angolan champions. The home side took the lead in the first half through Aguinaldo Policarpo, who scored the winning goal for his side as they stunned Esperance in their opening match. The lead was short-lived though as Burkina Faso striker Moussa Yedan levelled matters just a few minutes later. The draw takes Coton Sport to seven points, while Recreativo are on four.

Player of the week
Defender Salah Soliman is an unlikely candidate for player of the week for his offensive capabilities, but the 23-year-old kept Zamalek in the competition with the winner for his side against previously unbeaten Pirates. Having garnered just one point from their first three contests, the White Knights were under pressure to pull off a win against the Buccaneers. With the score and the match evenly poised at 1-1, the Egyptian under-23 international managed to find the winner for the Cairo giants with a header.

The stat
26 - The number of games Esperance have won at home in the group stage of the competition after their 1-0 victory against Sewe Sports on the weekend. Their record reads: 26 wins, eight draws and just a single loss (2-1 against Zamalek in 2005).

What they said
"Getting to seven points moved us a step closer to a place in the semi-final but nothing is settled yet. We still need to win our remaining two matches to be sure," Al Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef after his side's win.

Have your say
Can Coton Sport become the fourth team from Cameroon to win the title. Canon Yaounde (3), US Douala (1) and Oryx Douala (1) are the other Cameroonian clubs that have been crowned as Africa's best.