Game of the week
ES Setif 2-2 Raja Casablanca, 4-1 on penalties
Last year Sofiane Khedairia was one of the reasons why ES Setif secured their second African title and the goalkeeper was the hero for his side on the weekend as they progressed into the group stage at the expense of Raja Casablanca. El-Hedi Belameiri and Mourad Delhoum gave the home side a two-goal lead, but Abdelilah Hafidi and a last-gasp penalty from Adil Karrouchy made the aggregate score 4-4. In the penalty shoot-out, Khedairia emerged the mach-winner, saving two of the spot-kicks and keeping alive Les Aigles Noirs hopes of successfully defending their title.
Al Ahly 1-0 Moghreb Tetouan, 3-4 on penalties
After losing the first leg in Morocco through an injury-time goal, eight-time champions Al Ahly went into their home leg knowing that they needed to score at least once, and the hosts, once again playing in an empty stadium due to security concerns, went in pursuit of the tie-levelling goal from the start. They were rewarded for their efforts shortly before the break when playmaker Abdalla Said scored from a Basem Ali cross. But it was to remain the only goal of the match and the tie had to be decided in a penalty shoot-out, with the Cairo giants missing twice through Trezeget, who blasted over the bar and captain Hossam Ghaly, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Mohamed El Yousfi.
It was a good weekend for Sudan as both their representatives in the competition advanced, giving the country two teams in the group phase for only the second time in Champions League history. Al-Hilal, who did much of the work in the first-leg already when they won 1-0 in Congo DR against Sanga Balende, added another 1-0 victory to advance 2-0 on aggregate with captain Saif Masawi scoring the only goal of the game. In Rades, Abdalla Duffor gave Al-Merrikh the lead against two-time champions Esperance and although the home side managed to come back for a 2-1 victory, Al-Merrikh advanced to the group phase on the away-goal rule. Esperance had at least reached the last eight in their previous 15 appearances in the competition.
Veteran German coach Otto Pfister managed to take USM Alger into the group phase for the fourth time in their history. The Algerian club, who beat AS Kaloum 2-1 in the first leg, managed to secure a 1-1 draw in Guinea to advance 3-2 on aggregate, while El Eulma gave the North African country a historic third team in the group phase as they beat Tunisian club CS Sfaxien on penalties after losing 1-0 in Sfax. In the final game of the round, Jean Kasusula and Côte d'Ivoire international Roger Assale ensured a 2-1 victory for TP Mazembe against Stade Malien. The four-time champions advanced 4-3 on aggregate.
Player of the week
Egyptian club Smouha have very much played second-fiddle to Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek, but when the draw for the group phase of the Champions League is conducted the Alexandria-based club will be the sole representatives for their country. The player the Blue Wave can thank is Salah Amin, who found the 2-0 winner against Congolese club AC Leopards in injury time to see his side through 2-1 on aggregate. The 33-year-old, who has played once for Egypt, is celebrating his first Champions League campaign in his rookie season with the club making their debut in the event.
5 – The number of matches that holders ES Setif have drawn in their last six Champions League matches since losing the second leg of the semi-final in Lubumbashi against Mazembe last year.
What they said
"We want to make history. Playing in the group stage is not our ultimate objective. We want to go as far as we can and possibly win the competition," Smouha coach Helmi Toulan.