With eight points thus far, avoiding defeat against the Zambians will see Ahly become the first club from Group B to reach the next stage. On the otherhand, Nkana, who bounced back into contention thanks to a 4-3 win against Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia a fortnight ago, will take the group down the wire with victory against their visitors.
So far, Group A leaders, Coton Sport of Cameroon is the only side to have confirmed their place at the semis, and Ahly coach Carlos Garrido is optimistic his side will be next on the road to the next round, after this weekend’s penultimate matches of the group phase.
The ‘Red Devils’, 2-0 winners from the reverse fixture in Cairo last May, will face a tough test from a revamped Nkana, under the technical guidance of new coach Beston Chambeshi.
With midfielder Walid Soliman doubtful for the clash, Garrido’s quest has been boosted by the back-to-fitness of new recruit, Mohamed Farouk and gives the Spaniard options in midfield.
"The Nkana match is going to be a tough one following last round's results. Now they will be looking to secure a semi-final place, but I have complete faith in my team's ability to guarantee qualification in Zambia,” said the former Real Betis trainer.
Nkana are hoping a lone goal victory over DR Congo giants, TP Mazembe last Tuesday in a build-up game will spur them on to deliver against the Egyptians. Though the Zambians were held to a barren draw by Zamalek at the 1/8th round of the CAF Champions League in the previous meeting between two clubs from the two countries at the same venue, Chambeshi is convinced a different story will be told this time.
“I am happy with the way the boys played against TP Mazembe. The friendly also helped us to assess each player, even players like Billy Mwanza and Kelvin Mubanga who have recovered from injuries,” said Chambeshi, who will be without the suspended Shadreck Musonda.
In Sousse, Etoile du Sahel will face Ivorian side, Sewe Sport behind closed doors in the other Group B match. Depending on the outcome of the Nkana-Ahly game, Etoile will move to the brink with a win whilst Sewe Sport must avoid defeat to stay in the race.
In Group A, Coton Sport welcomes AC Leopards of Congo to Garoua on Saturday whilst ASEC Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire and AS Real of Mali sort things out in a match of equals in Abidjan on Sunday.
09/08/2014 Coton Sport (Cote d’Ivoire) vs AC Leopards (Congo)
10/08/2014 ASEC Mimosas (Cote d’Ivoire) vs AS Real (Mali)
09/08/2014 Nkana (Zambia) vs Al-Ahly (Egypt)
09/08/2014 Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) vs Sewe Sport (Cote d’Ivoire)