The chances of an all-Tunisian final in this year's CAF Confederation Cup are high. Title holders CS Sfaxien are sitting pretty in Group A with a two-point advantage over fellow Tunisians Club Africain, and need only a point from the top-of-the-table clash in Sfax Sunday to advance.
Club Africain, held 0-0 at home when the teams met two months ago, must win to overtake Sfaxien, bidding to become the first team to successfully defend the African equivalent of the European UEFA Cup. Egyptian paramilitary outfit Harras al-Hodoud host struggling Angolan police team InterClube in Alexandria at the same time, in a match where only pride is at stake.
JS Kabylie of Algeria top Group B by two points, but the generally suspect travellers are away to second placed Etoile Sahel of Tunisia on Saturday in the Mediterranean resort of Sousse. A win for Etoile, the only side to win every African Football Confederation club competition, will lift them into the final while any other result keeps the Algerian 'Canaries' in first place.
The group phase of the competition has been characterised by the dominance of home teams, and Sfaxien boast a 100 percent record before their supporters, whipping InterClube 4-1 and edging Harras 1-0 at the Taieb Mhiri Stadium.
A strength of the side guided by young coach Ghazi Ghrairi is the wide range of potential scorers led by Côte d'Ivoire-born striker Blaise Kouassi and Tunisia midfielder Abdelkrim Nafti. Club Africain, whose sole continental success came in the CAF Champions Cup (now League) 17 years ago, slipped up two weeks ago when held 1-1 at home by 10-man Harras.
The Tunis-based team also lack a consistent scorer, a problem not shared by Etoile, whose diminutive Nigerian striker Emeka Opara has scored three times in the mini-league phase.
Former African champions Kabylie suffered two-goal losses at Merreikh and Kotoko, so it would be surprising if a team coached by Romanian Alexandre Moldovan survived one of the most intimidating African football cauldrons.
The group winners go through to a two-leg final during November with a $330,000 first prize on offer plus a tilt at winners of the CAF Champions League for the African Super Cup.