A trio of former African club giants face shock elimination from the African Confederation Cup this weekend.

Mouloudia Alger of Algeria and Daring Club Motema Pembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo must overhaul three-goal deficits in second round, second leg qualifiers.

And Al-Merreikh of Sudan also face an uphill struggle in the second-tier African Football Confederation (CAF) club competition after suffering a 2-0 loss to CotonTchad in Chad two weeks ago.

Mouloudia became the first Algerian winners of the African Champions Cup in 1976 when they wiped out a three-goal first-leg defeat by title holders Hafia of Guinea before winning a penalty shootout.

Merreikh (1989) and Motema Pembe (1994) are former holders of the African Cup Winners Cup, which was discontinued with the CAF Cup when the African Confederation Cup kicked off three years ago.

Modelled on the European UEFA Cup and offering a 400,000-dollar first prize, the African Confederation Cup is open to national cup winners plus third-placed league teams from 12 countries selected on merit.

Mouloudia, Motema Pembe, Merreikh, Ismailia of Egypt, Union Douala of Cameroon and Club Sportif Sfaxien of Tunisia stood out in the field as all have won at least one CAF competition.

However, Mouloudia lost not only the match but also their heads when crashing 3-0 to African rookies Kwara United in Nigeria with three of the Algerian outfit sent off.

An automatic one-match ban means the trio are ruled out of the return match in Algiers amid concerns of a hostile reception for the Nigerians from some of the most partisan football supporters on the continent.

Akombo Ukeyima was the Kwara first-leg hero, scoring in each half and a foul on the international unknown led to the free kick which Chukwuma Akabueze converted in the south-western state capital of Ilorin.

Motema Pembe could not contain goal-hungry African newcomers Benfica Luanda in Angola when losing 4-1 and it is doubtful that they can recover despite the advantage of playing in Kinshasa, another hotbed of African football fervour.

Benfica made their intentions clear in the opening round, thrashing San Pedro Claver of Equatorial Guinea 7-1 on aggregate, and a third-round showdown with Astres Douala of Cameroon beckons next month.

Merreikh hired veteran German coach Otto Pfister believing their 15,000-dollar-a-month investment would reap handsome rewards and the thought that they might fail to African minnows CotonTchad was not entertained.

But on a hard, dry N'Djamena pitch resembling the surface of the moon, the experienced Sudanese had no answer to a brace of first-half goals from Esai Djikeloum.

Ismailia, whose 1969 African Champions Cup triumph was the first by an Egyptian club, entertain Ajesaia of Madagascar without captain Mohsen Salah Abougreisha, whose criticism of the team led to him being transfer listed.

Long-serving Abougreisha scored in the 2-2 first-leg draw, with the north Africans also grateful to experienced goalkeeper Mohammed Sobhi, who saved a last-minute penalty on the vast Indian Ocean island.

The Union Douala class of 2007 pales when compared with those who won the 1979 Champions Cup and 1981 Cup Winners Cup, but progress to the next round should be a formality after outclassing Textil Pungue 3-0 in Mozambique.

Sfaxien, unlucky Champions League runners-up to Al Ahly of Egypt last year, are equally well placed to progress having built a 3-1 advantage over Satellite in Guinea.