The line up for the quarterfinals of the 2022-23 TotalEnergies CAF Champions League will take shape this weekend with the penultimate round of group stage matches lined up.
Only Mamelodi Sundowns and Raja Club Athletic are assured of places in the last eight, and there are six more slots to jostle for and most could be decided by close of day Saturday.
All teams in the group; defending champions Wydad Athletic Club, JS Kabylie, Petro de Luanda and AS vita Club all have a chance to progress.
Leaders Wydad who have won three matches on the trot after recovering from their opening day loss to Petro will travel away to AS Vita Club. They lead the standings with nine points, while Vita are bottom with three.
A victory for the Moroccans will guarantee them a place in the last eight with one match left in the group. Congolese side Vita are faced with a must win match. Wydad won the first leg
Meanwhile, second placed JS Kabylie will be at home in Algiers against Petro de Luanda in a tie expected to be explosive. Kabylie are on seven points at second spot while Petro are third with four, three behind.
A win for Kabylie will earn them qualification while Petro have to win on enemy territory to keep their hopes till the final day.
Essentially, if both Wydad and Kabylie win, the group will be sewn up.
Leaders Mamelodi Sundowns already have their place in the quarters guaranteed, but they play a crucial match as far as the destiny of the group is concerned. They will take on Al Hilal in Omdurman, with the second placed side seeking to usurp them on top of the group.
Masandawana are on 10 points while Hilal are on nine.
Record champions Al Ahly are in danger of missing out on a place in the last eight if Hilal earn maximum points against Sundowns. The Egyptian giants are on four points having lost last weekend to Sundowns 5-2 in Pretoria. They face bottom side Cotonsport, who are winless in four matches, in Garoua.
Fate is out of Ahly’s hands and they will hope to win and move to seven points while Hilal lose to give them a chance heading to the final match day.
A win for Hilal, regardless of Ahly’s result away in Cameroon, will essentially close out the group and the last match day will be a battle of who finishes top in the group.
Sundowns beat Hilal 1-0 in Pretoria in the first leg while last season, when they met in the same stage, the South Africans went off with a 4-2 away day win. Hilal will hope lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place.
Raja already have top spot and a place in the quarter finals confirmed and the battle now is between second placed Simba SC and third placed Horoya, for second spot. Simba are on six points, two ahead of third placed Horoya and are hosting the Guinean side in Dar es Salaam in a tough duel.
Simba will confirm third place if they beat Horoya at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium as they will move to nine points, five ahead of the Guineans. They lost the first leg 1-0 in Conakry in a game in which they lost a myriad of chances and will be keen to make amends.
While Simba come into the tie with confidence off back to back wins against bottom side Vipers SC, Horoya have lost back to back matches against Raja.
The group leaders will host bottom placed Vipers who are winless, goalless and with just a point from their first four matches.
Just like Group A, Group D is an open affair heading into the penultimate round of matches. Tunisia’s Esperance lead the group with nine points, three ahead of second placed CR Belouizdad while Zamalek and Al Merrikh are on four points.
Al Merrikh host leaders Esperance in Libya while Belouizdad face Zamalek in Algiers.
If both Esperance and Belouizdad win their matches, they will both confirm their places in the quarter finals. Taraji beat Merrikh 1-0 in the first leg while CRB beat Zamalek by a solitary goal in their backyard.
Zamalek come into the return fixture in Algeria beaming with immense confidence if their performance in the 3-1 victory against Esperance last weekend is anything to go by.