CAF Champions League

Business end of the CAF Champions League group stage starts

The second half of the CAF CL group phase kicks off today. Photo | CAF Online
The second half of the CAF CL group phase kicks off today. Photo | CAF Online


The second half of the group phase of the 2022-23 season of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League starts Tuesday evening, with clubs keen to cement a hold on the top two places in each group for a ticket to advance to the quarter finals.

There will be five midweek games lined up for Tuesday, a quick turnaround with teams facing each other again in less than a week.

Cairo will host what is expected to be a massive North African derby, with under pressure Zamalek hosting Esperance in a match they must win to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

The White Knights who failed to make it beyond the group stage last season and with only one point from three matches at the bottom in Group D, they need a win at all costs.

They lost 2-0 to Taraji in Rades 10 days ago and revenge is on their minds to ensure they keep their hopes alive. A defeat will be detrimental to their hopes. Esperance on the other hand will put one foot into the quarter finals if they earn three points from the duel.

Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul expects a tough duel with his side looking to extend a 14-match unbeaten streak.

Al Merreikh away to CRB

Meanwhile in the corresponding match of the same group, Sudanese giants Al Merreikh will be away to Algeria’s CR Belouizdad in a match that will have a great impact in the destiny of the group.

Merreikh are on four points at second spot in the group and a win for them will give them a huge opportunity to make the quarter finals while, if Zamalek lose to Esperance, they will be eliminated and the Tunisians book a quarter final ticket.

The Algerians are third in the group with three points and they will be keen to avoid defeat and keep their hopes afloat.

Elsewhere in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s Simba host Ugandan group stage debutants Vipers at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium. Simba beat their East African neighbors 1-0 when they played the first leg in Kampala and are looking to complete a double.

Simba are third in Group C with three points and only a win will keep their ambitions in tow while Vipers who have only one point, also must win to ensure their hopes of a quarter final in their first attempt is achieved.

“We have one point but mathematically it’s possible for us to qualify. We played well in Kampala and had more chances but Simba outmuscled us because of their players’ experience. We were found lacking in set pieces and a bit defensively shaky,” said Vipers coach Beto Bianchi.

He now hopes to guide his side to victory against his fellow Brazilian Roberto Oliveira, who guided the Ugandans to the group stage qualification before crossing to Simba.

Raja tackle Horoya in Conakry

While the East Africans duel in Dar es Salaam, group leaders Raja Club Athletic will be in Conakry, Guinea, seeking to cement their place in the quarter finals as they take on hosts Horoya.

Raja are unbeaten in the group, having won all their three matches in convincing fashion and another three-point performance in enemy territory will host them to 12 points and an unassailable gap at the top.

They beat the Guineans 2-0 when they met 10 days ago and will look to complete a home and away double. Horoya meanwhile are on four points from a win and a draw, and need to win to guard their hold on second spot with Simba breathing on their necks.

Hilal play Cotonsport in Omdurman

And finally in Omdurman, Sudan’s Al Hilal will host winless Cotonsport in the only Group B fixture this Tuesday. Hilal are second in the group with six points, one behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns and will look to clinch victory over the winless Cotonsport to move top and put a firm grip on a quarter final ticket.

Hilal, under revered Congolese coach Florent Ibenge who won the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup with Morocco’s RS Berkane last season, have been in good form with two wins, their only defeat being a slim 1-0 loss away to Sundowns.

They are two points ahead of third place Al Ahly, with the Egyptian record champions set to face off with leaders Sundowns over the weekend. Victory in their Omdurman turf will give them a massive advantage and pile massive pressure on Ahly who travel down to South Africa.