Giants a step away from semis
© AFP

Former CAF Champions League winners Al-Ahly and Esperance can become the first clubs to make sure of a semi-final place in this year's competition if results go their way in this weekend's games on the fourth matchday. The top two clubs in each group advance to the semi-finals, and the winner of the competition qualifies for December's FIFA Club World Cup.

Game of the week
Etoile du Sahel - Esperance
A 1-0 victory a fortnight ago in the home leg of the Tunisian derby in Group A took Esperance to within a victory of the last four of the lucrative competition and, if the other result goes their way, they could even advance with a draw. Between the two, the clubs have won the Tunisian league 33 times, with Esperance having picked up 24 of those, including the last three. Ahead of the clash in the Stade Olympique de Sousse, Mondher Kbaier's team are with their back against the wall as they are currently lying third in the group on four points. A draw even would be a real setback for Diables Rouges as they chase a second Champions League title. Midfielder Khaled Mouelhi scored the only goal from the penalty spot in Tunis and could again be the danger man for the Blood and Gold, while the home fans will be looking for goals from Niger international Moussa Maazou to keep them in the competition.

Other matches
ASO Chlef have to win their Group A match at home against Nigeria's Sunshine Stars if they want to stay in contention for a place in the next round. The visitors will be without Ibrahim Ajani, James Moses, Dayo Ojo (all suspended) and Osas Idehen (injured) for the game in Algeria. The match in the Stade Mohamed Boumezrag in Chlef sees a return to the stadium for Nigerian playmaker Izu Azuka, who spent two years with ASO Chlef rivals JS Kabylie.

In Group B, Al-Ahly, who have won the Champions League a record six times, are away to Berekum Chelsea. The Ghanaian club disappointed in 4-1 defeat a fortnight ago and will be eager to reverse the result. The Cairo club has a rich pool of attacking players, and surely the giants will think Mohamed Aboutrika, Emad Moteab or Walid Soliman can put the Blues' defence to the test.

The other game sees 2009 and 2010 champions TP Mazembe travelling to Cairo for their game away to Zamalek. The five-time winners have yet to secure a point in the group stage of the competition and will go into their match against the side from DR Congo with a new coach in Luso-Brazilian Jorvan Vieira. The well-travelled coach ultimately took over from former Pharaohs' coach Hassan Shehata, who left the club shortly before the first match in Lubumbashi, which the home side won 2-0.

Player to watch
Berekum Chelsea's Black Stars international Emmanuel Clottey has scored an astonishing 12 Champions League goals - including all six that the club has scored in their opening three matches in the group stage - and is just one shy of the 13-goal record set by Nigerian striker Stephen Worgu for Enyimba in 2008. With at least three matches remaining for the Ghanaian side, it seems likely that Clottey can match - or better - Worgu's tally.

The stat
2 –
The number of clubs who could advance to the semi-finals of the Champions League this weekend (Esperance and Al-Ahly) and the number of clubs that could be eliminated from the competition (Zamalek and ASO Chlef) this matchday.

What they said
"We had to release them to go and help their club in the CAF Champions League. Sunshine Stars are the only Nigerian team left in any of the continental club competitions. So this is a way of helping them go far," Nigeria's national team coach Stephen Keshi explaining why he allowed four Sunshine Stars players to leave the Super Eagles' camp.

Have Your Say
Will there be three north African clubs in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the third time in a row?