CS Sfaxien might be the only team out of the eight challengers never to have lifted the CAF Champions League but coach Mrad Mahjoub is hopeful that his side can stay the course and still be in with a chance of glory by the time of November's final.
Recent events have certainly given cause for optimism. Earlier this month, they scored an historic victory over defending champions Al Ahly - a result which ended two years without defeat on the African continent for the Egyptian giants. So it all augurs well for the club from the southern Tunisian port city who will go into this weekend's second round of matches with confidence running high.
The club has received another boost with the level of commitment shown by various key figures. A number of players were due to move on but have put their plans on hold, preferring to deal with the more pressing matter of the Champions League campaign.
Captain Anis Boujelbene was due to sign for Egypt's Zamalek last week but with the potential of Champions League success too great a temptation, has delayed the move until the end of the year. "It's true that my contract now permits me to move but it is not the right moment now to quit the club," the international midfielder reasoned. Meanwhile his teammate, former French Ligue 1 campaigner, Wissem Adi has also turned down a move to Qatar because he believes Sfaxien have chance of taking the continental title.
Nevertheless, Sfaxien's credentials will come under scrutiny on Saturday when they travel to Obuasi in Ghana to meet Group A opponents Asante Kotoko.
Generally speaking, Tunisian sides have traditionally struggled on their travels but coach Majhoub insists his side have set themselves a realistic ambition of making the semi-finals at the end of the group competition. As he explained, saying, "We believe we can progress with each match in the group and our hope is to finish second in the group".
Al Ahly, who lock horns with Algerian outfit JS Kabylie on Saturday, seem to have already put the recent defeat to Sfaxien behind them - last Sunday, they beat ENPPI to lift the Egyptian Super Cup for the second year running.
But the trophy success came with a heavy price - star midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika, who struck the game's winner in additional time, was later diagnosed as having torn cartilage in his knee and could be out for the next month.
Aboutrika joins a growing list of injuries at the club, who could have seven players sidelined for the game against JS Kabylie of Algeria in Cairo on Saturday. Shady Mohamed and striker Emad Moteab are both serving suspension after attempting to assault the referee at the end of the match in Sfax.
Fortunately for Al Ahly, their Algerian opponents are just as threadbare as they arrived in Cairo on Thursday for the Saturday's game.
The Algerian champions have a number of key players also out of the game because of injury. To make matters worse, coach Jean-Yves Chay will not be traveling with the team. Chay is reportedly returning to France for what the Algerian press termed "family reasons".
In Group B, Nigeria's Enyimba are expected to stretch their lead at the top of the standings when they host the South Africans Orlando Pirates in Aba on Sunday.
Enyimba scored a 2-0 away win over Hearts of Oak of Ghana in their first group match and are notoriously difficult to beat at their small stadium in the eastern half of Nigeria. Pirates meanwhile gave away a last-gasp qualifier to ASEC Abidjan in their first group match, dropping two vital home points, and have looked poor in their pre-season preparations.
Pirates' new Serbian coach faces some tough selection decisions as his side prepares to depart for Nigeria.
ASEC Abidjan will be looking for their first win when they play Hearts of Oak in Abidjan in a derby match between two of west Africa's most prestigious club sides.
ASEC play another tough match after suffering in their last two outings. They were held 1-1 by Pirates in their opening group game and could only draw against long-standing rivals Africa Sports in the Abidjan derby last weekend.
Saturday 29 July
Obuasi: Asante Kotoko (Ghana) v CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
Cairo: Al Ahly (Egypt) v JS Kabylie (Algeria)
CS Sfaxien 1 Al Ahli 0
JS Kabylie 1 Asante Kotoko 0
Sunday 13 August
Obuasi: Asante Kotoko v Al Ahly
Algiers: JS Kabylie v CS Sfaxien
Saturday 26 August
Cairo: Al Ahly v Asante Kotoko
Sfax: CS Sfaxien v JS Kabylie
Saturday 9 September
Obuasi: Asante Kotoko v JS Kabylie
Cairo: Al Ahly v CS Sfaxien
Sunday 17 September
Algiers: JS Kabylie v Al Ahly
Sfax: CS Sfaxien v Asante Kotoko
Sunday 30 July
Aba: Enyimba (Nigeria) v Orlando Pirates (South Africa)
Abidjan: ASEC Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) v Hearts of Oak (Ghana)
|Hearts of Oak||1||0||0||1||0||2||0|
Hearts of Oak 0 Enyimba 2
Orlando Pirates 1 ASEC Abidjan 1
Saturday 12 August
Johannesburg: Orlando Pirates v Hearts of Oak
Sunday 13 August
Abidjan: ASEC Abidjan v Enyimba
Sunday 27 August
Aba: Enyimba v ASEC Abidjan
Obuasi: Hearts of Oak v Orlando Pirates
Sunday 10 September
Aba: Enyimba v Hearts of Oak
Abidjan: ASEC Abidjan v Orlando Pirates
Saturday 16 September
Obuasi: Hearts of Oak v ASEC Abidjan
Johannesburg: Orlando Pirates v Enyimba
The top two sides in each group advance to the semifinals. The first legs of the semifinals will be played on the weekend of 29-30 September and 1 October and the return legs a fortnight later.
The runner-up in Group B hosts the winner of group A in the first leg as does the runner-up in group A, who plays the winner of Group B.
The first leg of the final will be played on the weekend of 27-29 October and the return leg on the weekend of 10-12 November.