Al Ahly on the verge of a semifinal spot

Victory for holders Al Ahly of Egypt at the halfway point of their African Champions League campaign today will put them on the verge of a semifinal spot.

Victory for holders Al Ahly of Egypt at the halfway point of their African Champions League campaign today will put them on the verge of a semifinal spot.

The Egyptian giants, chasing an unprecedented third successive Champions League title, host Tunisia's Esperance in Cairo, hoping to take advantage of a club in crisis.

Al Ahly's opponents begin their third match of the league phase with a third successive coach, Arbi Zouaoui, brought in after the surprise departure of Faouzi Benzarti last week.

Benzarti had himself been appointed two weeks earlier when Frenchman Jackie Duguperoux got off to a slow start in the Group B campaign last month and was promptly fired.

Esperance have also suspended their captain and veteran defender Moyin Chaabani for disciplinary reasons, without giving clearer details.

The Tunisian club, who have one point from their two opening matches, will also be without French-born defender Wissem Bekri, suspended after an accumulation of yellow cards.

Al Ahly go into today's game with two wins and if they maintain their 100 percent record they will take themselves to within touching distance of the semifinals.

Injury-plagued throughout last year, the Egyptians now have a settled squad with the return of long-term casualties Mohamed Barakat and Gilberto.

The top two teams in the two groups advance to the semis.

Al Hilal of Sudan host Asec Abidjan in the group's other game on Sunday.

The Sudanese looked convincing in a 2-0 win over Esperance two weeks ago while Asec lost their last game at home to Al Ahly and have just a single point.

Another defeat could end any realistic hopes for the Ivory Coast champions.

In Group A, Morocco's Royal Armed Forces desperately need a win against Al Ittihad of Libya in Rabat tomorrow to stand any chance of progressing after losing their opening two matches.

Etoile Sahel of Tunisia host JS Kabylie in Sousse, also tomorrow, with a chance to take control of the group. - Reuters

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