African history to be repeated?

Egypt's Al Ahly and Tunisia's Etoile Sahel look set for a repeat showdown in the CAF Champions League final but must still get past their semi-final opponents this weekend.

Defending champions Al Ahly are better placed than Etoile Sahel, but both will be fancied to overcome their lesser-known opposition in Saturday and Sunday's second leg encounters.

The two teams met in the 2005 Champions League final which saw the first leg end goalless but Al Ahly emerge victorious in the second game. They went on to win 3-0 on aggregate.

But before any repeat match-up is finalised, Etoile Sahel must overturn a deficit against Sudan's Al Hilal, one of this year's surprise packages.

Al Hilal, competing in the league phase for the first time since the introduction of the Champions League more than a decade ago, won 2-1 in last month's first leg tie at Omdurman.

They turned around a half-time deficit with two quick goals midway through the second half to win the match. However, the concession of a vital away goal means Etoile only need a 1-0 win in Saturday's return at the Olympic stadium in Sousse.

The Tunisians are seeking to qualify for a continental competition final for a record fifth year in a row, having won last year's CAF Confederations Cup.

A weekend break has allowed Etoile, who are the early season leaders in their domestic championship, an opportunity to refresh ahead of Saturday's second leg. Coach Bertrand Marchand has a full strength side save for an injury to Mejdi Ben Mohamed, who also missed the first leg.

Al Hilal make the trip in the knowledge they have not shown their best form away from home, but held Esperance to a 1-1 draw in their last trip to Tunisia.

Al Ahly won in the Egyptian premier league on Monday to continue their improving form but once again the players came in for a verbal ticking off from hard-to-please coach Manuel Jose. The Portuguese trainer says his side are not playing entertaining football, complaining their performances in their last two league games were "less than efficient."

Jose, however, will know better than most that focusing on Sunday's second leg against Al Ittihad of Libya is vital and that his players will be keen to make sure of a trip to a third successive Champions League final.

The Cairo giants have the major motivation of winning the Champions League for a third successive year, a feat never achieved before in more than 40 years of Africa's top club competition.