Holders Al-Ahly of Egypt and last year’s losing finalists Coton Sport have both crashed out of the CAF Champions League after home draws in their respective matches on Saturday.
Ahly were held to a 2-2 by Nigerian champions, Kano Pillars in Cairo whilst Coton Sport also settled for a one all draw with another Nigerian side, Heartland FC in the Northern Cameroonian town of Garoua.
The Cairo stalemate ensured Pillars, who had prior the clash sworn to end the reign of the Egyptian giants, qualify on the away goals after both legs was tied 3-3, whilst fellows Heartland eased through 3-2 on aggregate after a 2-1 victory from the first leg.
This is the second successive time the reigning champion of the CAF Champions League has been booted out at the 1/8th stage after Etoile du Sahel were edged out by Dynamos of Zimbabwe last year.
Late strikes from Angolan-import Flavio Amado and Mohamed Barakat earned Ahly an image saving draw after Victor Namo and Rabiu Mohamed had given the visitors a two goal lead early in the second half.
Elsewhere in Garoua, Thankgod Ike put Heartland in the lead on 42 minutes before Keita Salif drew parity for Coton Sport on the stroke of half time.
Sahel also made amends this time by beating Ahly Tripoli of Libya 2-0 in Sousse to join two-time winners, T.P. Mazembe of DR Congo at the last eight after holding Moroccan debutants Ittihad Zemouri Khemisset to a 0-0 draw in Khemisset.
Goals from former Ghana youth international, Sadat Bukari and Ammar Jemal was enough to see Sahel through on a 2-0 aggregate, whilst T.P Mazembe inched through 1-0 on aggregate.
Zambia’s Zesco United and Al-Merrikh of Sudan also qualified for the first time to the mini-league stage.
For ZESCO United, they opened a new chapter in Zambian football with their 2-1 victory on Djoliba AC of Mali at the Trade Fair Ground in Ndola to qualify by the same margin on aggregate.
The Zambian champions became the first club from the southern African country to reach the last eight of the continent’s premier club competition since its inception in 1997.
Contrastingly, it was Djoliba who took the lead two minutes to half time through Janvier About before second half strikes from Lottie Phiri and Enock Sakala secured victory for the Ndola-based team.
In Omdurman, Al Merrikh were held to a one all draw by visiting Kampala City Council of Uganda, but the Sudanese giants eased through 2-1 on aggregate.
Endurance Idahor gave Merrikh the lead on 62 minutes before Brian Omony leveled for visitors 10 minutes from time.
The qualified teams will be entered into the draw fixed for May 7 in Cairo, Egypt with the losers facing the winners of the Confederation Cup 1/8th round in the play-off.
Al Ahly (Egypt) 2-2 Kano Pillars FC (Nigeria)
Kano Pillars FC (Nigeria) 1-1 Al Ahly (Egypt)
*Kano Pillars qualify on away goal rule after 3-3 tie
Zesco United (Zambia) 2-1 Djoliba AC (Mali)
Djoliba AC (Mali) 0-0 Zesco United (Zambia)
*Zesco United qualify 2-1 on aggregate
Merrikh (Sudan) 1-1 Kampala CC (Uganda)
Kampala CC (Uganda) 0-1 Merrikh (Sudan)
*Merrikh qualify 2-1 on aggregate
Coton Sport (Cameroon) 1-1 Heartland (Nigeria)
Heartland (Nigeria) 2-1 Coton Sport (Cameroon)
*Heartland qualify 3-2 on aggregate
Ittihad Z. Khemisset (Morocco) 0-0 TP Mazembe (RD Congo)
TP Mazembe (RD Congo) 1-0 Ittihad Z. Khemisset (Morocco)
*TP Mazembe qualify 1-0 on aggregate
E.S.S. (Tunisia) 2-0 Ahly Tripoli (Libya)
Ahly Tripoli (Libya) 0-0 E.S.S. (Tunisia)
*E.S.S. qualify 2-0 on aggregate
To be played on Sunday:
Monomotapa FC (Zimbabwe) v Asec Mimosas (Cote D’Ivoire) (0-1)
Al Hilal (Sudan) v C. D. 1e de Agosto (Angola) (1-3)