15 March 2019 07:14
Tanzanian club Simba SC boast a perfect CAF Champions League home record this season and can book a quarter-finals place by beating Democratic Republic of Congo visitors V Club Saturday.
Record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt and JS Saoura of Algeria are also chasing top-two finishes in Group D on the final matchday in the elite African club competition.
Saoura top the table with eight points, Ahly and V Club have seven each and Simba six, but the final order may be quite different.
Ahly, another club with a 100 percent home record in this Champions League, are expected to defeat Saoura in Alexandria and finish first.
And Simba can leap from last to second provided they avenge a five-goal drubbing from V Club in Kinshasa two months ago.
AFP Sport previews the sixth matchday with 11 clubs hoping to join defending champions Esperance of Tunisia and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the March 20 last-eight draw.
While Sundowns have qualified, who finishes first and whether Wydad Casablanca of Morocco or ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast also progress are issues to be resolved.
The South Africans need a point at Wydad to remain top while ASEC, away to Lobi Stars of Nigeria, must achieve a better result than Wydad to snatch second spot.
Sundowns and ASEC boast in-form goal scorers in Themba Zwane and Amed Toure respectively as they seek first away victories in this section.
Esperance have won the group thanks to three home victories and two away draws, leaving Horoya of Guinea and Orlando Pirates of South Africa to scrap for second place.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic has been reminding his squad of 1995, when the club stunned ASEC in Abidjan to win the competition, then called the African Cup of Champions Clubs.
But multi-national Horoya, whose stars include Ghana-born striker Ocansey Mandela, are one point ahead of Pirates and have home advantage so the odds favour them.
Five-time champions TP Mazembe from DR Congo have, like Simba and Ahly, won all their home games, including a group-record 8-0 thrashing of Club Africain from Tunisia.
They look set to defeat Algerian visitors CS Constantine, who have managed only four points from a possible nine since firing three unanswered goals past Mazembe in north Africa.
Constantine should qualify as runners-up, though, given they have a three-point advantage and a far superior goal difference than Club Africain, who host bottom side Ismaily of Egypt.
Ahly have a goalkeeper crisis with injuries reportedly ruling out first choice Mohamed el Shenawy and reserve Sherif Ekramy, leaving Ali Lotfy to start against Saoura.
The Egyptian club, runners-up in the past two editions, have been impressive at home, winning their three qualifying and group matches by scoring nine goals and not conceding.
Simba hope a multi-national attack of Rwandan Meddie Kagere, Zambian Clatous Chama, Tanzanian John Bocco and Ugandan Emmanuel Okwi can deliver victory over former champions V Club.