Going into the fifth round of matches in the group stage of the CAF Champions League all eight teams remaining in the competition still had a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. However, at the end of the matchday, the only thing that remained to be decided was which clubs would finish first and second in the two tables as Congo DR rivals Vita Club and TP Mazembe as well as the North African duo of ES Setif and CS Sfaxien ensured their places in the round of the last four.
Match of the week
Al Ahly Benghazi 0-1 CS Sfaxien
French coach Philippe Troussier continued his winning run in the Champions League with CS Sfaxien as he guided the Tunisian club to a 1-0 victory against Libyan club Al Ahly in their Group B game. A veteran of African football, Troussier had the visitors going for the win that would take them to the last four from the start, but they had to wait until midway through the second half for the breakthrough when substitute Maher Hannechi set up Ferjani Sassi, and the 22-year-old Tunisian international made no mistake. The result was heart-breaking for the outsider Libyans, who had picked up four points from their three opening matches, but then lost the next two to be eliminated from the competition.
Esperance needed a win in the other Group B match to keep alive their hopes of maintaining their run of having reached at least the semi-finals since 2010, while their opponents ES Setif needed just a draw to be assured of advancing. Ahmed Akaichi gave the Blood and Gold the ideal start with a goal early on, but the Algerian side drew level from the penalty spot when Akram Djahnit converted midway through the first half. The striker put his side ahead shortly after the restart, but Tunisian international Akaichi completed his own brace with some 20 minutes to go when he equalised. Although the visitors poured forward in search of a winning goal, Setif held on and are second in the group on nine points – one less than CS Sfaxien. Esperance and Al Ahly have four points each and with one game to go are eliminated.
In Group A, big-spending Congo DR side TP Mazembe made sure of their passage into the semi-finals with a 3-1 victory over Sudanese club Al Hilal. All three goals for the home side were scored by foreign players, with Zambian Rainford Kalaba opening the score before Solomon Asante from Ghana and Malian international Cheibane Traore put the game well beyond the visitors. Al Hilal pulled one back in the dying moments through Mudathir El Tahir, but it was too little too late. The four-time winners Mazembe were joined in the semi-finals by local rivals Vita Club, who secured a shock 1-0 victory in Alexandria against Zamalek. Both teams from the Congo DR are on 10 points, while Al Hilal and Zamalek have just four.
Player of the week
Ugandan forward Yunus Sentamu grabbed his fair share of headlines earlier this year when he scored all three goals that the Cranes managed at the African Nations Championship. Shortly afterwards he signed a four-year contract with Vita Club, and the 19-year-old with a birthday this week scored the goal that downed five-time champions Zamalek at home.
6 – The number of African titles won by the four teams to advance to the semi-finals. Mazembe has four of them, while Vita Club and Setif have won once each – in 1973 and 1988 respectively.
What they said
“We came here to win, and we were ready in all respects - technically, physically and mentally - but Setif is a great team,” Esperance coach Sebastien Desabre.
Have your say
Can Tunisian club CS Sfaxien win back-to-back continental titles? The club nicknamed Juventus Al Arab last year won a record-breaking third CAF Confederation Cup, beating TP Mazembe 3-2 on aggregate and have now qualified for their fourth semi-final in the Champions League.