The group stage of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League continues to gather pace this weekend, with several high profile matches expected with clubs jostling for the top two positions to make the quarter finals.
Here are some of the matches to look out for this weekend.
The East African derby
Tanzania’s Simba and Uganda’s Vipers clash under the floodlights at the St. Mary’s Stadium in the outskirts of Kampala on Saturday evening.
Both sides are winless after the first two rounds of matches, and this will be a key and crucial fixture for both of them. The most interesting bit though, will be the return of Brazilian coach Roberto Oliveira to the St. Mary’s Stadium.
The tactician, nicknamed Robertinho, led Vipers to qualification for the group stages for the first time ever, before he left them for Simba in January this year. He will be returning to the club on enemy attire, barely two months later.
Vipers have a point from last weekend’s draw at home against Horoya, while Simba are winless after back to back losses against Horoya and Raja Club Athletic.
Vipers tactician Roberto Bianchi expects a better performance at home from his side, saying he is pleased with the improvement he has seen since their 5-0 drubbing on match day one away to Raja.
The North African affair
Esperance de Tunis will host Egyptian giants Zamalek in Rades, in what is also expected to be a blockbuster tie.
Esperance lead Group D with a maximum six points after back to back 1-0 victories away to Algeria’s CR Belouizdad and at home against Al Merreikh.
On the other hand, Zamalek have just a single point from their draw against Merreikh while they lost to Algeria’s Belouizdad.
These two sides last met in March 2021, with Esperance winning 1-0 in Cairo. It has however been a balance over the last seven meetings between the two sides, each winning three while one ended in a draw.
For Zamalek, it will be a crucial encounter to earn three points to keep their campaign on track.
Can Ahly bounce back to winning ways?
Record champions Al Ahly started their campaign for an 11th Champions League title with defeat away to Al Hilal of Sudan in Omdurman and they are keen to bounce back to winning ways on their second match of Group B.
But they come up against a tough opponent, Mamelodi Sundowns, who have won their first two matches of the group and sit pretty on top.
It will be a repeat of last season’s group stage match up, where Sundowns won both home and away legs. Ahly will be keen for revenge when they clash in Cairo.
Ahly warmed up for the grand clash against The Brazilians with a 3-0 thrashing of Aswan in the Egyptian Premier League and they come into the tie beaming with confidence and hoping for a win.
Sundowns on the other hand, have not had midweek league engagements and come into the tie a week after their huge 3-1 win over Cotonsport in Garoua.
Across all competitions, Sundowns have an enviable record of losing only once in their last 24 matches. Their only defeat was a surprise 3-0 spanking at the hands of Orlando Pirates in the MTN8. Since then, they have been on a run of 16 consecutive wins.
Can Ahly stop their run?