The return of CAF Champions League title holders Al Ahly will headline eight Matchday 2 group stage fixtures in Africa’s premier club competition spread across Friday and Saturday.
The Egyptian heavyweights missed the first round of group stage games due to their participation in the Fifa Club World Cup, where they claimed bronze medals, and they will be eager to put points on the board in Group A when they face Sudan’s Al Hilal in an away fixture early on Friday evening.
Despite the achievement of finishing third at the CWC, Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane says neither he nor his team will rest on their laurels.
“I am not happy despite winning the bronze medal. I wanted one of a different colour this time, but after all, we made a huge achievement to Al Ahly and Egypt,” Mosimane explained.
“The positive thing is that we played against all circumstances. We came here with a lot of absences and injuries, such as Mohamed El-Shennawy, Percy Tau, and Akram Tawfik, but we showed a great spirit. For me, this year’s medal is better than last season’s.”
Friday night also sees Group B co-leaders ES Setif and Raja Casablanca face off in a North African derby in Algeria, while South Africa’s AmaZulu and Guinea’s Horoya FC will both be looking to put their first points on the board when they meet in Durban.
Saturday afternoon sees Sudan’s Al Merrikh host Mamelodi Sundowns, with the latter side looking to pick up where they left off in a 1-0 win over Al Hilal last weekend, while Petro de Luanda will welcome heavyweights Wydad Casablanca for a key Group D clash.
The Angolan side claimed the shock result of Matchday 1 when they held Zamalek 2-2 in Cairo, and coach Alexander Santos will be hoping for another strong showing when the Moroccan club comes to Luanda.
“It was a difficult game against Zamalek. It was an honour to coach this group of players and I’m proud of what we did. Getting a point from Zamalek is a very good thing,” said Santos.
He added, “The group is very strong and we will fight to qualify for the next round.”
The early-evening kick-offs see Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy hosting Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel in Group C, while Sagrada Esperanca will welcome Zamalek in the other Group D showdown.
The action wraps up in Algeria on Saturday night with a potentially explosive clash between CR Belouizdad and Esperance de Tunis in Group C.
CRB coach Marcos Paqueta felt his side should have claimed all three points when they faced Etoile du Sahel last weekend, and will be looking for them to complete the job against another Tunisian opponent this time around.
“At the end of the game, we had a good opportunity to get the three points with this penalty whistled in our favour, but unfortunately we failed to turn it into a goal,” said Paqueta. “It's a shame but I still congratulate my players who played a decent game.”
Friday 18 February
Al Hilal v Al Ahly
ES Setif v Raja Casablanca
AmaZulu v Horoya AC
Saturday 19 February
Al Merrikh v Mamelodi Sundowns
Petro de Luanda v Wydad Casablanca
Jwaneng Galaxy v Etoile du Sahel
Sagrada Esperanca v Zamalek
CR Belouizdad v Esperance de Tunis