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Star-studded Egyptian club Al-Ahly head a list of four clubs who could seal African Champions League semifinals slots this weekend.
Ahly need only draw a Cairo showdown with bitter domestic rivals Zamalek on Sunday to advance from Group A and Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast can join them provided they overcome Dynamos of Zimbabwe in Abidjan tomorrow.
Leaders Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon visit Tout Puissant Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and second-placed Enyimba of Nigeria host Al-Hilal of Sudan in Group B on Sunday knowing maximum points will take them through.
Decades-long adversaries Ahly and Zamalek share the record for African Champions League titles with five each, but Ahly have been dominant at national and international level for five years.
When the clubs clashed last June in the opening round, Ahly triumphed 2-1 via goals by Angola striker Flavio Amado and Egypt captain and midfielder Ahmed Hassan. A week later it was 2-0 to Ahly in the pre-season Egypt Super Cup with veteran Hassan again on target.
Zamalek coach Reiner Hollmann is unperturbed by these reverses, telling the club website: "Our chances to advance to the semifinals are equal to those of our group competitors."
But the grim reality facing the German is that if Ahly take even one point from a match likely to draw a 70 000 sell-out crowd and resurgent Asec triumph, it will be all over for Zamalek.
After losing to Dynamos and drawing with Ahly, Asec took four points off Zamalek from a draw in Cairo and win in Abidjan to move a point ahead of the Egyptian "White Knights" and two ahead of Dynamos.
Enyimba welcome back leading 2008 African Champions League scorer Stephen Worgu from suspension as they try to recover from a 3-0 mauling at Mazembe two weeks ago that saw them slip to second place, a point behind Cotonsport.
While the "Peoples Elephant" also lost at Hilal, they are formidable in their Aba fortress with five qualifying and group matches yielding 17 goals.
Hilal, favoured to reach the semifinals after reaching that stage last year, surrendered the advantage of a bright mini-league start by taking a solitary point from a possible six against Cotonsport.
The club from the northwest Cameroon town of Garoua has been the revelation of the pool phase despite the resignation of French coach Denis Lavagne three months ago. - Sapa-AFP