Clubs from North Africa could dominate the second round of the CAF Champions League, with seven sides from along the Mediterranean looking to advance to the second round of Africa's biggest club competition. That achievement is not beyond comprehension as results in the first leg of the first round matches went their way, with Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek leading the way with good results away from home.
Eight-time champions Al Ahly host Recreativo do Libolo after a goalless draw in Angola, and new Al Ahly coach Martin Jol says that he has big ambitions for the Red Devils, including a continental triumph for the first time since 2013. "We have enough motivation to win the African Champions League title. This is an outstanding team, so we must do our best to make our dream come true through scoring and winning."
As Jol has also noted, scoring isn't something that has come easily to Al Ahly this year, but the former Tottenham coach is hoping he can call on striker Emad Meteb, who missed the first leg through injury. The inclusion of the Egyptian international would give him options upfront.
Cross-town rivals Zamalek, who also have a new coach in Alex McLeish, are in an even better position as the Whites secured a good 1-0 win at Union Douala in the first leg. Another well-known manager, John Toshack, who has also coached at the highest level in Europe, should have no problems in seeing his Wydad Casablanca team through as the Moroccan champions beat Madagascan club CNaPS Sport 5-1 in the first leg.
There are two all-North African clashes, with Tunisian involvement in both. 1991 winners Club African secured a 1-0 first leg win against Algerian rookies MO Bejaia and will find their work cut out for them in the return leg, while Etoile du Sahel, who won the competition in 2007, secured a 1-1 draw in Morocco against Olympique Khouribga. 2014 champions ES Setif go into their home leg against Congolese club Etoile after drawing 1-1 on the road, while the final North African team eyeing a place in the round of the last 16 is Libya's Al Ahli, who defend a 1-0 first leg win at last season's semi-finalists Al Hilal.
For South African glamour club Kaizer Chiefs the dream of a first-ever place in the group phase of the competition is in danger of – yet again – becoming a nightmare. The Amakhosi lost against ASEC Mimosas at home 1-0 and travel to Côte d'Ivoire on the back of four straight defeats in a row – matching their worst run in two decades.
However, coach Steve Komphela believes they can turn things around. “We have to go to Abidjan, get an early goal and then we are equal. We are still in a position to progress to the next round.” Things are looking much brighter for the other South African club as Sundowns are away to AS Leopards in Dolisie, where they will be defending a 2-0 lead from the first leg.
Nigerian fans find themselves in a similar situation, with Warri Wolves having lost the home leg against Al Merreikh 1-0, while two-time champions Enyimba secured a comfortable 5-1 victory against Vital'O.
Defending champions TP Mazembe are still one of the event's favourites, although the Lubumbashi-based club were held to a 2-2 draw at St George in Ethiopia. Les Corbeaux are confident of turning things around at home with Ghanaian striker Daniel Adjei, who scored one of the goals in Ethiopia, saying: "We played well in Ethiopia, but we were not sharp. On Sunday we will show the continent who the defending champions are and that we want to keep the trophy.”
The other Congo DR club in the competition, AS Vita, who were losing finalists in 2014, face a tricky away trip to Mozambique, where they will be looking to defend a 1-0 lead from the first leg against Ferroviario.
Zambian club ZESCO United should have an easier task in Guinea against Horoya, having already won the first leg 4-1, while Young Africans, whose last appearance in the play-offs dates back to 2007, did much of the hard work in their first-leg encounter in Rwanda against APR with a 2-1 victory. The final game sees Stade Malien travel to Cameroon defending a 2-0 win against Coton Sport.