Egyptians seek semi spot
© AFP

Cairo giants Al Ahly could become the first side to secure a place in the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League but will need a marked improvement in form to make sure of their progression to the final four.

Al Ahly, who lead the standings in Group A, will move onto ten points if they beat Dynamos of Zimbabwe and will consequently grab one of the berths available for the top two finishers. However, Saturday's match in Harare could prove to be a difficult assignment for the Egyptians, who struggled to beat the Zimbabwe champions at home just a fortnight ago.

Al Ahly took advantage of some poor finishing, holding out for an unconvincing victory against Dynamos in Cairo, but will probably find it much tougher in the return game at the Rufaro stadium in the Zimbabwe capital. The newly laid artificial pitch, installed as part of FIFA's 'Win in Africa with Africa' initiative, has assisted the pace and flair of the Zimbabwean team, who are the surprise package of this year's competition. Indeed, Dynamos' own hopes of potential progress hinge on inflicting the first defeat for the Egyptians in the group phase.

"We won't put ourselves under pressure, we've played them before and despite losing the game, I think we played very well," said David Mandigora, the Dynamos coach. "We have always played to win in every game that we've been involved in and it's no different for this one."

Zamalek aiming for revival
The weekend's second Group A game also presents a crossroads for Egypt's other representatives Zamalek, who have looked far from the club that once held the record for the number of CAF Champions League titles.

The arrival of experienced coach Reiner Hollmann was expected to start an instant revival, but the speed of progression has frustrated some fans.

On Sunday, they are away in Côte d'Ivoire to ASEC Abidjan in a must-win match for both teams. They drew 0-0 in Cairo earlier this month.

The Egyptians go into the game with a shortage of strikers. Having sold star Amr Zaki to English Premier League club Wigan Athletic, they are without Mostafa Gaafar, who is in dispute with the club as well as Abdelhalim Ali, who is suspended. However, Ghana striker Junior Agogo is due back after a spell on the sidelines with injury.

ASEC's reserve goalkeeper Daniel Yeboah was the man of the match in the last meeting between the clubs, but it is uncertain if he will keep his place in the team given that Vincent Angban is back after playing at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing.

Away days for Group B faves
In Group B, the top two contenders are both playing away from home this weekend.  Enyimba of Nigeria are in Lubumbashi for a tough encounter with TP Mazembe Englebert, while Sudan's Al Hilal travel to the steamy heat of Garoua for a meeting with Coton Sport of Cameroon.

Enyimba continue to head towards the semi-finals on the back of Stephen Worgu's goals, but Mazembe go into Sunday's game having won their local derby against FC Lupopo last weekend.

Coton Sport might be in the middle of their domestic close-season but are still proving competitive. But big spending Al Hilal, who arrived by charter plane in Cameroon on Tuesday are aware they cannot afford to slip up on Saturday.

There are two more rounds of group competition remaining after the weekend's games.