Title holders CS Sfaxien of Tunisia hope a pattern of home victories in the African Confederation Cup continues today when they host upstarts Harras al-Hodoud of Egypt.
Sfaxien, attempting to become the first club to successfully defend the African equivalent of the UEFA Cup, suffered a 3-1 reverse at the Egyptian club last weekend.
But the Tunisians will be confident of turning the tables in the fourth round fixture as 11 of 12 previous mini-league matches this year have resulted in home successes.
Sfaxien were the one team to buck the trend, forcing a goalless draw at fellow Tunisians Club Africain in the second round of a yearly competition carrying a $330000 first prize.
"The cohesion and determination of our technically gifted squad makes me optimistic we can lift the trophy again," coach Ghazi Ghrairi said. "The key to qualification for the final is picking up as many points as possible at home. While I believe the biggest threat comes from compatriots Club Africain, we also respect Harras and InterClube."
Sfaxien overwhelmed Angolan police outfit InterClube 4-1 in their previous home match with Guinean Naby Soumah and Ghanaian starlet Agyemang Opoku among the goals. Ivorian striker Blaise Kouassi was on target against Harras in Alexandria and has proved a consistent scorer.
Harras cannot match domestic rivals Al-Ahly and Zamalek when it comes to big names, but coach Tarek al-Ashry has instilled a work ethic that saw off Mouloudia Alger of Algeria and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in qualifiers.
After outclassing InterClube 3-0 at home for their first win, Club Africain will hope for a repeat performance in Luanda on Sunday.
The competition's leading scorer, Eric Bekoe from Asante Kotoko of Ghana has struck all nine goals at Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
His haul included a brace in a 3-1 victory over Algerian visitors Jeunesse Sportive Kabylie last Saturday but he faces a much tougher challenge on Sunday on an artificial Tizi Ouzou pitch.
Kabylie overcame a 3-1 loss at Al-Merreikh of Sudan by defeating Etoile Sahel of Tunisia 1-0 in eastern Algeria. Etoile, who share top spot with Kotoko on six points, edged 2007 runners-up Merreikh 2-1 in their Sousse stronghold, but will struggle to repeat that feat tomorrow in Omdurman. - Sapa-AFP