As Tunisia's CS Sfaxien and Egypt's Al Ahly look ahead to Saturday's second leg of the CAF Champions League final, they will no doubt reflect on past history as part of their build-up.

Indeed the Egyptian players will look to find some fortitude for the away leg in Tunisia from the fact that their club has already stepped onto the winners' podium on four previous occasions.

Indeed if Al Ahly are to produce an away win, after having been held to a surprise 1-1 draw at home in Cairo in the first leg, they will equal the record number of wins by a club in the tournament. Five triumphs by Zamalek between 1984 and 2002 is the one particular avenue in which they are overshadowed by their compatriots and bitter rivals - a statistic of success which they are keen to emulate.

The weekend's final will mark the 41st time that Africa's top club prize has been contested. However, the prize money, sponsorship and television coverage that will surround the match in Rades, will contrast sharply with the Spartan era that marked the first final, held more than 40 years ago.

41 years of history
Then it was a four-team tournament that decided who were the African champions for 1964, although the final itself was only played at the start of 1965. It was Ghana who came up with the idea for the tournament and who donated the first trophy, named after their first president Kwame Nkrumah.

It was three years in the making after an initial suggestion from Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee member Ohene Djan, who had been spellbound by the dazzling football of Real Madrid, who had traveled to Africa for exhibition matches in Accra and Cairo.

After 14 teams had entered the preliminaries, four went through to the final tournament in Accra: Real Republicans of Ghana; Coton Factory from Ethiopia; Stade Malien and the Cameroonian club Oryx Douala. Oryx Douala emerged as the first winners, first beating their Ghanaian hosts in the semi-final and four days later edging the Malians 2-1 to become the first-ever African champions.

Stade Abidjan staged a remarkable recovery to win the second title a year later but the outcome of the 1967 final was not decided until midway through the next year. Asante Kotoko and the Congo-Kinshasa club Englebert drew 3-3 on aggregate over the two legs of the final and were ordered by CAF to play a replay on a neutral venue in Yaoundé just after Christmas. 

Englebert sings a winning song
However, Kotoko did not travel and Englebert were declared champions, a decision that CAF then rescinded as they made a second attempt to stage a replay. They ordered another replay and arranged it for Kinshasa but Kotoko objected and sought to have another venue used instead. Their recommendation was Cameroon or Nigeria but CAF insisted on Kinshasa.

It was at a meeting of the competition's organising committee on 10 June 1968 when the champions of 1967 were eventually proclaimed. Englebert went on to retain their title and then play in four finals in a row, a feat matched between 1975 to1978 by Hafia of Guinea, who won two and lost two. Kotoko have lost five finals but did win in 1970 and 1983. The latter win was over Al Ahly, who have lost just one of their five final appearances.

Only Nigeria's Enyimba have been able to successfully defend the title as Englebert had done in 1968. Enyimba were also the first Nigerian club to win after more than 40 years of competing in the continent's top club competition when they defeated Egypt's Ismaili in 2003 to claim the title.  Their penalty shoot-out win over Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in 2004 made it two in a row, a feat Al Ahly are also seeking to emulate this Saturday.

Since 1965, only 12 of Africa's 53 footballing nations have delivered an African club champion. Egypt have 10 wins, five more than Cameroon and Morocco in second place.