Matchday four of the Caf Champions League’s group stage was completed with five matches across the continent on Saturday 12 March, with the headline results seeing Petro de Luanda secure qualification for the quarterfinals, while Mamelodi Sundowns are on the cusp of joining them.
The afternoon matches in South Africa and Tunisia saw Sundowns and Esperance de Tunis take major strides toward the quarterfinals with their respective wins in group A and group C.
Downs completed a double over reigning African champions Al Ahly by winning 1-0 at the FNB Stadium thanks to a first-half strike from Peter Shalulile. The result guarantees that the Brazilians will finish ahead of the Red Devils (on at least head-to-head results) and while they could technically still be overtaken by both Sudanese sides Al Hilal and Al Merrikh in the final two matchdays, only an unlikely confluence of results would keep them from advancing.
Esperance are also looking a solid bet to claim a quarterfinal berth after a clutch 2-0 away win over compatriots Etoile du Sahel, thanks to goals from Abdel Kader Bedrane and Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane.
The Blood and Gold are joint top of their group on eight points (alongside CR Belouizdad) and they enjoy a five-point lead over Etoile with just six points to play for. Bottom-of-the-log Jwaneng Galaxy have been eliminated.
In the early evening, Raja Casablanca suffered a first defeat in group B (and missed out on early quarterfinal qualification), after they succumbed 2-1 away to bottom-of-the-log Horoya AC in Conakry.
The Guinean hosts fell behind to Hamid Ahadad’s opener, but came back to claim victory thanks to strikes from Ocansey Mandela and Yakhouba Barry.
The Green Eagles still hold top spot in the group, but they are just three points ahead of ES Setif and AmaZulu – with the Algerian side defeating their South African visitors 2-0 at Stade du 5 Juillet in the late kick-off, thanks to goals from Riad Benayad and Akram Djahnit.
In Angola, Petro de Luanda reclaimed top spot in group D and ensured they and Wydad Casablanca have wrapped up the two quarterfinal berths thanks to a 3-0 home win over compatriots Sagrada Esperanca (who have been eliminated alongside Egyptian giants Zamalek).
Tiago Azulao scored a first-half brace and Eric added a cherry on top with a late penalty as Petro kept up their status as the surprise package of the group stage – and a team many will want to avoid in the quarterfinals.
The Caf Champions League will return on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 March with matchday five fixtures across the continent.