With one matchday remaining in the group stage of the CAF Champions League, the four semi-finalists have been decided as Zesco United, Wydad Casablanca and joined the previously qualified Sundowns. But while the South Africans know they will top Group B ahead of Zamalek, Zesco and Wydad go head-to-head in their final match, with both sides still in with a chance to finish first in Group A. For record champions Al Ahly, who were chasing a ninth title, there was no fairy tale ending for a campaign that started poorly as they were knocked out.
Match of the week
Al Ahly 2-2 Zesco United
Going into the game in Suez City, Al Ahly knew that they really needed maximum points to keep alive their hope of qualifying for the semi-finals, and they certainly showed their intentions early on, as they dominated the game. But against the run of play it was the visitors who took an early lead when Jesse Were scored with a strong header. Defender Rami Rabia found the equaliser on the half hour after Zesco failed to clear from a corner. But again it was Were who put his side ahead as he scored just five minutes later, poking the ball into the net from close range after the Red Devils failed to clear a corner. Zesco then held the advantage till five minutes from the end when substitute Emad Moteab scored with a spectacular bicycle kick. The 2-2 result took Zesco to eight points, while Al Ahly have just five, and with head-to-head results counting as tie-breakers, the Egyptians can no longer catch the Zambian club.
Zesco were overtaken at the top of the group by Wydad Casablanca, who needed a last-minute goal from man-of-the-match Fabrice Ondama to beat ASEC Mimosas 2-1. The Congolese striker set up his side's opening goal on the hour with Abdeladim Khadrouf scoring. The lead lasted just 10 minutes though as Yannick Zakri equalised with a shot into the bottom corner. The visitors were denied a share of the spoils as Ondama scored in injury time to take his side to 10 points.
In Group B, Zamalek made sure of joining Sundowns in the semi-finals with a 1-0 victory against Enyimba to move to six points from their four matches – three behind the South Africans. The Cairo giants went into the game, which was rescheduled for Monday night, knowing that they needed just a point to be guaranteed a place in the last-four for the first time in 11 years. The White Knights dominated throughout and created several chances, but had to wait until the hour before international striker Basem Morsi scored the all-important goal from the penalty spot.
Player of the week
Although Jesse Were had scored just twice in the Champions League ahead of Zesco's game against Al Ahly, he is known as lethal in front of the net. After all, the Kenyan international is leading the Zambian scorer charts with 12 goals this term, and he was the 2015 Kenyan Premier League Golden Boot winner for Tusker FC before that. And the 27-year-old's two goals – both scored in the first half – gave his club the point they needed to be assured of their first-ever semi-final spot.
2 – The number of points that Al Ahly picked up in their three home group matches. After winning their two home games in the knock-out stages, the Cairo giants failed to win again in Egypt. Their tally is the worst the Red Devils have secured in the group phase since the inception of the competition.
What they said
“First of all, I would like to apologise because our African hopes have faded. I'm not looking for any excuses because I bear full responsibility. I'm aware of the high ambitions of Ahly fans, who accept nothing but triumphs," Al Ahly coach Martin Jol.