JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 13 – Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane has described CAF Champions League opponents Mamelodi Sundowns as “a monster I created that is coming to bite me” ahead of their quarter-final first leg on Saturday.
Mosimane turned Sundowns into the dominant South African club and guided them to the 2016 Champions League title before becoming the first sub-Saharan African to coach Egyptian giants Ahly last year.
This will be the third consecutive season in which the clubs meet at the last-eight stage with honours even as Sundowns triumphed in 2019 and record nine-time champions Ahly gained revenge last season.
Here, AFP Sport looks ahead to the first legs with Ahly, Sundowns, Esperance of Tunisia, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Mouloudia Alger of Algeria all winners of the marquee African club competition.
Ahly v Sundowns
This will be the ninth clash between the Egyptian and South African clubs with Ahly winning four, drawing three and losing one of the previous tussles.
But despite the overall superiority of the Cairo Red Devils, the humiliating 5-0 loss to Sundowns in Pretoria two seasons ago still rankles with their supporters.
It is hard to imagine such a one-sided scoreline in either match this month with well-organised Ahly slight favourites to triumph on aggregate, especially if they keep a first-leg clean sheet.
Mouloudia v Wydad
Mouloudia, who won the competition at the first attempt in 1976 and reached the quarter-finals twice in the following four years, are back in the last eight after a 41-year absence.
They were seeded third in the so-called ‘group of death’, but finished above 2020 runners-up Zamalek of Egypt after travelling to Esperance and forcing a 1-1 draw.
Twice title-holders and favourites Wydad boast a top-class forward in Ayoub el Kaabi and veteran Tunisian coach Faouzi Benzarti has won five CAF titles, more than any other African.
Belouizdad v Esperance
Algiers outfit Belouizdad are first-time quarter-finalists thanks to a strong finish in Group B that brought wins over five-time champions TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sundowns.
They boast the Champions League leading scorer this season in Amir Sayoud, whose seven goals include a hat-trick against Gor Mahia of Kenya in a qualifier.
Esperance have been effective rather than eye catching with only one of the other seven contenders scoring fewer than their 12 goals, and they have the leakiest defence with eight conceded.
Chiefs v Simba
Quarter-finals debutants Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa have kept eight clean sheets in 10 qualifiers and group matches, but failed to score in five of them.
So it is doubly troubling for coach Gavin Hunt that first and second choice goalkeepers Itumeleng Khune and Nigerian Daniel Akpeyi are battling to be fit while star Zimbabwean forward Khama Billiat is injured.
Simba of Tanzania have been the surprise side of this edition with six victories including one over Ahly and a multi-national squad coached by France-born Didier Gomes da Rosa are expected to progress.