Pitso Mosimane

Despite Al Ahly’s victory over Al Masry in the Egyptian Premier League on Friday, Pitso Mosimane’s men are now just ONE match away from losing their Egyptian Premier League title. EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Off-form Al Ahly, Zamalek desperate for CAF victories – 16 March 2021

Egyptian and African giants Al Ahly and Zamalek face tough CAF Champions League group matches on Tuesday.

Pitso Mosimane

Despite Al Ahly’s victory over Al Masry in the Egyptian Premier League on Friday, Pitso Mosimane’s men are now just ONE match away from losing their Egyptian Premier League title. EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Egyptian and African giants Al Ahly and Zamalek face tough CAF Champions League group matches on Tuesday, knowing losses would severely diminish hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

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Al Ahly won the marquee African club competition a record ninth time last season by defeating five-time champions Zamalek in the first final featuring teams from the same country.

But Al Ahly have won only one of three Group A matches this season and Zamalek are winless in Group D, leaving the Cairo clubs third in their respective groups with only the top two in each advancing to the knockout stages.

Al Ahly are away to AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a team who held them to a 2-2 draw in Cairo, while Zamalek seek revenge at home to Esperance of Tunisia for a 3-1 loss when they clashed nine days ago.

Below a preview of match day 4 with Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco defending the only 100 percent group records among the 16 participants.

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Group A

After firing three unanswered goals past Al Merrikh of Sudan, Club World Cup bronze medalists Al Ahly have taken just one point from a possible six, losing to Simba in Tanzania and drawing with AS Vita Club. 

Al Ahly lack a consistent scorer and Mahmoud Kahraba, the only player to net twice in Africa during this campaign, is suspended after a row with coach Pitso Mosimane.

While second-placed AS Vita Club battle Al Ahly for crucial points, Simba SC could increase their lead at the top of the table when they host Al Merrikh, who have collected only one point and conceded seven goals.

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Group B

Mamelodi Sundowns are appearing in the group stage for the sixth consecutive season and will seal a last-eight place if they complete a double over DR Congo visitors TP Mazembe.

The Pretoria outfit have shrugged off the loss of long-serving Pitso Mosimane to Al Ahly by going 24 matches unbeaten in all competitions since last October under co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokoena.

After ending the 74-match unbeaten home record in CAF competitions of TP Mazembe through a late goal from Lyle Lakay this month, the biggest threat to Mamelodi Sundowns could be overconfidence.

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Group C

Two-time African champions Wydad have scored seven goals and not conceded as three straight victories gave them a five-point lead ahead of a visit to second-place Horoya of Guinea.

The Casablanca club pose a multi-national threat going forward with Moroccan Ayoub el Kaabi, Tanzanian Simon Msuva and Libyan Muaid Ellafi starring.

With Wydad set to win the section, Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa go to Petro de Luanda needing a second win over the pointless Angolans in 11 days to keep alive hopes of finishing runners-up.

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Group D

French coach Patrice Carteron has returned to Zamalek for a second stint after Portuguese Jaime Pachedo was sacked following two goalless draws and a defeat in Africa.  

The White Knights beat Esperance at home last season in the quarter-finals and have to repeat that feat as they trail the Tunis club by five points and Mouloudia Alger of Algeria by three.

Mostafa Mohamed played a pivotal role in Zamalek reaching the 2020 final by scoring eight goals and his loan move to Turkish giants Galatasaray has been sorely felt. 

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CAF Champions League match day 4 fixtures on Tuesday, 16 March (all kick-off times SA):

Group A

Simba (TAN) v Al Merrikh (SUD) – 15:00

AS Vita Club (COD) v Al Ahly (EGY) – 15:00

Group B

Al Hilal (SUD) v CR Belouizdad (ALG) – 15:00

Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA) v TP Mazembe (COD) – 18:00

Group C

Horoya (GUI) v Wydad Casablanca (MAR) – 18:00

Petro Luanda (ANG) v Kaizer Chiefs (RSA) – 18:00

Group D

Mouloudia Alger (ALG) v Teungueth (SEN) – 21:00

Zamalek (EGY) v Esperance (TUN) – 21:00