Previewing CAF Champions League Gameweek Four
The second half of the CAF Champions League group stage begins on Tuesday, as Africa's top sides continue to battle it out for a spot in the knockout rounds.
Which of the continent's sides are set to close in on their spot in the final eight, and who are struggling to keep their African dreams alive?
In this feature, KweséESPN preview the midweek fixtures in the CAF CL.
Group A Ferroviario Beira have defied pre-competition predictions to sit in second place in the group after three matches, and remain undefeated at home. However, on their only away match to date, they were demolished 5-0 by Etoile du Sahel, and Sudanese heavyweights Al-Merreikh will be hoping for a similarly emphatic victory on Tuesday.
However, despite the presence of star man Bakri Al-Madina, there will doubtless be a lot of pressure on the home side, as they know that a defeat would surely eliminate them.
In the other group game, favourites Etoile du Sahel are one of six unbeaten sides still in the competition, and will all but secure their progression with a win against Al-Hilal in Omdurman.
Group B Despite two convincing opening-day wins for USM Alger and SC Zamalek, neither side have truly managed to assert themselves in Group B, with the latter having Emmanuel Mayuka to thank after his 93rd-minute equaliser against the Algerians in the last round of games kept them in top spot.
Heading away to Algiers on Wednesday evening, Zamalek will surely be happy with the draw and the chance to retain control of the group, although the Red and Blacks are a fearsome prospect at home, as they demonstrated when they downed Al-Ahli Tripoli 3-0 in their group opener.
No team in the competition has conceded more than CAPS United, who were 3-0 down after 25 minutes at home against the Libyans, before securing a slightly more acceptable 4-2 scoreline after a late rally.
It will surely be an emotional occasion for CAPS following the death of Edzai Kasinauyo, and might his protégé Ronald Chitiyo have a tribute or two for his former mentor? Group C Fallen giants AS Vita Club are one of only two sides in the competition to have lost all three of their matches so far, and they need a significant upturn in fortunes if they're to stand any chance of sneaking out of the group stage.
However, it's more likely that their dreams of a second African title will end imminently, and potentially even at home against surprise package Saint George on Tuesday.
The Ethiopian heavyweights won 1-0 in Addis Ababa -- following on from draws against Mamelodi Sundowns and Esperance -- and are one of only two sides yet to concede.
Africa's champions Mamelodi Sundowns may have won away in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late May, but their 2-1 home defeat against Esperance could prove costly.
Indeed, the Tunisian side would confirm their spot in the next round if they win at the Stade Olympique de Rades on Wednesday, whilst also leaving Downs with an awful lot to do.
Group D Al-Ahly and Zanaco FC have taken control of Group D after three matches, with both sides tied on seven points after three matches.
The latter, in particular, will look to take a giant step towards the knockout stages when they face winless Coton Sport away in Garouna. The Cameroonian heavyweights have lost all three of their games so far, scoring just once, and should be there for the taking.
Ahly face a slightly tougher brief when they travel away to Wydad Casablanca. The Moroccans have lost their last two matches -- both away -- and know that they need to take a big scalp if they're to reach the last eight.
Wydad romped to victory domestically this term, winning the title by seven points, and will be keen to summon that spirit in order to see off African giants Ahly.
Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.