CS Sfaxien continued their headline-grabbing ways in the CAF Champions League on Sunday as they seized top spot in Group A from holders Al Ahly of Egypt.

Their reward now comes in the shape of a semi-final clash against South Africa's Orlando Pirates, who squeezed through in Group B, while Ahly can look forward to a mouth-watering last four encounter against in-form ASEC Abidjan - a pairing many expected to see united in the final.

Sfaxien's hard-fought 2-1 home win over Asante Kotoko of Ghana, allied with the 2-2 draw for their Egyptian rivals in Algiers, meant that the Tunisians finished top of the their section's standings at the end of the league phase of the competition.

Both Al Ahly and ASEC Abidjan had already been assured of qualification going into the weekend's final round of group matches, but in Group A at least, the final positioning of the top two was still firmly up for grabs

In Group B, meanwhile, ASEC had already made sure of top place, leaving Pirates and Nigeria's Enyimba to face off in a tense battle for the runners-up berth in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The stakes could hardly have been higher and, in a delicious twist of irony, the former Enyimba player Onyekachi Okonkwo proved Pirates' match-winner, scoring the only goal of the game to condemn his old club to a second successive year of failing to advance past the group phase.

It was a bitter blow for the Nigerian outfit, who had won back-to-back Champions League titles in 2003 and 2004, but whose inability to hold onto their key players came back to haunt them in Johannesburg. To add insult to injury, Okonkwo's 30th-minute goal was a finish right out of the top drawer, expertly placed in the top corner.

Enyimba went into the game only needing a draw to go through to the semi-finals, while Pirates required no less than a win. In the end, both sides were guilty of squandering a plethora of chances, with Enyimba looking decidedly listless after a botching of their flight plans had seen them arrive in South Africa less than 24 hours before kick off. 

Unwanted record for Hearts of Oak
Just as Okonkwo had condemned his own countrymen, so the Ghana international Joetex Frimpong was instrumental in ending the hopes of one of his country's top sides in Group A.

Frimpong, recently signed by CS Sfaxien, scored the first goal in the Tunisians' 2-1 win over Asante Kotoko when his shot proved too hot to handle for embarrassed goalkeeper Eric Nii Bah, who let the ball slip into the net.

It was a crushing early setback for Kotoko, but with his side needing to win and under severe pressure, Nii Bah atoned for his early error by making a string of superb saves  in the minutes which followed to keep his side in with a shout.

Kotoko's hopes were then further enhanced when, on a rare foray forward, Murtala Mohamed scored from a corner in stoppage time at the end of the first half to stun Sfaxien and their erstwhile noisy fans.

However, once the Ghanaians' Michael Ofusu Appiah earned himself a needless second yellow card for an unnecessary foul midway through the second half, Sfaxien had the advantage once again, and they made it tell six minutes from time when Chadi Hammadi headed home the winner at the back post.

The win lifted Sfax to 12 points, one more than Al Ahly, who needed a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time to avoid defeat at bottom-placed JS Kabylie in Algiers.

That goal was the second of the game from Mohamed Aboutrika, who had earlier given the defending champions a half-time lead only to see JS Kabliyie storm back to score twice through Malian-born Cheikh Oumar Dabn, whose second came from the penalty spot.

Group B also saw a draw played out on Saturday as Hearts of Oak and ASEC finished locked at 0-0 in their last group match, the result of which held no bearing on the outcome of the qualifying places.

Mohamed Bawu missed two golden chances to win it for Hearts, but as with their previous group stage encounters, the ball stubbornly refused to go in, leaving the Ghanaians with the unwanted record of being the first side in 10 years of the Champions League to end the league phase without a goal.