African final set up amid tight contests
© AFP

After the first leg matches in the semi-final round of the CAF Champions League, a repeat performance of last year's final seemed on the cards after both North African giants Al Ahly and Esperance drew their away fixtures. However, the return legs again failed to produce any winners with the away-goal rule deciding one finalist and the other settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Egypt's Al Ahly are reigning champions and the competition's most successful club with eight titles, and the Cairo giants will meet South Africa's Orlando Pirates, who are the country's only previous champion of this event. The winner of the two-legged final between them will join Raja Casablanca, who qualify as the host nation's champions, as Africa's representatives at the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013 in December.

Game of the week
Al Ahly 1-1 (7-6 pen) Coton Sport
Although Al Ahly had earlier in the competition already surrendered a long home unbeaten streak when they were thrashed by Orlando Pirates 3-0, the Red Devils were the favourites to beat their Cameroonian visitors, or at least find the scoreless draw that would protect their away goal. And the Cairo club, who were forced to play behind closed doors after crowd trouble during an earlier match, had an ideal start when playmaker Abdullah Al Saied opened the scoring after just three minutes. Surprisingly, Al Ahly then allowed Coton Sport into the game and the 2008 finalists had a number of chances before finally equalising in the 65th minute through Kada Yougouda, who scored from close range to top the leading scorer charts so far. With the score 2-2 on aggregate, a penalty shoot-out was required. Al Ahly converted seven of eight penalties to reach the final, with Jacques Haman blasting over for Coton Sport on their third sudden-death attempt.

The other match
Al Ahly will face 1995 champions Orlando Pirates in the final after the South African club drew 1-1 in Rades against Esperance to go through on the away-goal rule after the first match ended in a goalless draw in South Africa. Esperance had more chances in the opening spell but failed to find the goal that would have settled them. Instead, it was the visitors who took the lead early in the second half when defender Rooi Mahamutsa headed home after a corner. Although the Blood and Gold threw everything they had at the visitors after substitute Iheb Msakni levelled matters in the 55th minute, the Pirates proved their tough reputations by holding the match under control.

Player of the week
In a star-studded Orlando Pirates side, Rooi Mahamutsa was an unlikely match-winner. Although the 31-year-old defender has twice come on as a substitute for Bafana Bafana, those games were both at least four years ago. Since then, Mahamutsa has been a solid worker in the back for the Buccaneers without making many headlines or being known for his goals. All of that changed on Saturday when he scored the vital away goal for Pirates in Tunisia with a powerful header from a corner. Although the home side equalised shortly afterwards, it was Mahamutsa's goal that saw the Sea Robbers through to their second final.

The stat
10 - The number of times that Al Ahly have been in the final of Africa's premier club competition. The Red Devils have won the tournament a record seven times and have twice been losing finalists.

What they said
"Given the hard times we are going through, this is an acceptable display ... I'm satisfied with the effort they put in the game. In the end, winning is what matters most,” Mohamed Youssef, Al Ahly coach.

Have your say
Is South Africa's 18-year-wait in the Champions League finally over? Orlando Pirates is the only team from southern Africa to win the competition (in 1995), with  Zambian club Nkana Red Devils (1990), Dynamos from Zimbabwe (1998) and South African club Sundowns (2001) the only other teams from the region to make it through to the final.