13 September 2018 10:00
Horoya of Guinea, whose only African title came 40 years ago, will try Friday to end a four-match CAF Champions League winning streak by continental giants Al Ahly of Egypt. The clash in Conakry kicks off the quarter-finals first legs in the premier African club competition with Ahly hoping to lift the trophy a record-extending ninth time.
"Our objective was to reach the quarter-finals, but now we will try to go as far as possible," said 66-year-old France-born Horoya coach Victor Zvunka. "I have a squad of quality players, who are very attentive during training and work hard on matchdays.
Working with them is such a pleasure." But the club who won the 1978 African Cup Winners Cup are underdogs over two legs against Ahly, whose winning run has not been matched by any other of the seven title contenders.
The first legs this Friday and Saturday as the clubs eye a $2.5 million (2.15 mn euros) first prize and qualification for the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup. Horoya v Ahly Horoya caused the biggest surprise of the group stage by progressing at the expense of 2016 Champions League winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.
But they could struggle in Conakry against Ahly having won only two of their previous five CAF matches there this season. Ahly travelled to west Africa confident that they can win after going to Tunisia during the group phase and succeeding through a goal from leading scorer Walid Azaro, a Moroccan.
Setif v Wydad
Wydad Casablanca of Morocco want to become only the fourth club after Ahly, Enyimba of Nigeria and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo to successfully defend the title.
They should move closer to achieving that goal by eliminating Entente Setif of Algeria, twice African champions but the least impressive of the eight qualifiers. Wydad executed a 'win at home and draw away' policy to perfection in the group stage so it would not be surprising if the first leg produced a stalemate.
Primeiro v Mazembe
Having reached the quarter-finals for the first time, Primeiro Agosto of Angola are unlikely to go further given the pedigree of opponents TP Mazembe. Mazembe won the last two editions of the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup having lifted the 2015 Champions League -- a record of continental success unmatched even by Ahly recently. Both clubs will bank on DR Congo-born sharpshooters for goals with Jacques Bitumba scoring four for Primeiro in Africa this season and Ben Malango seven for Mazembe.
Esperance v Etoile
Security personnel are sure to be on high alert in Rades as matches between these arch Tunisian rivals are often explosive, both in domestic and CAF competitions. Esperance and Etoile Sahel are former African champions who had relatively comfortable passages to the quarter-finals and it is difficult to predict the overall winners.
Anice Badri, part of the Tunisia World Cup squad in Russia this year, is the leading Esperance scorer with six CAF goals while Amine Chermiti has claimed four for Etoile.