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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 7, 2006

Trio on verge of African Champions League semi's

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Holders Al Ahli, opponents CS Sfaxien and the Ivorian club ASEC Abidjan can ensure qualification to the semi-finals of the African Champions League with positive results at the weekend.

Tunisian provincial club Sfaxien need only draw in Saturday's Group A clash in Cairo to reach the final four. Their Egyptian opponents, however, remain favourites to win and continue their bid for a successful defence of the title they captured in emphatic style last year.

ASEC Abidjan will ensure they finish in the top two in Group B if they beat South Africa's Orlando Pirates in the Ivorian capital on Sunday.

All but one of the other clubs involved in the two-group, eight-team league phase of the tournament still have hopes of progress to the semi-finals.

Nigeria's Enyimba, who have not won in their last three Group B matches, can revive their chances with a home victory over Ghana's Hearts of Oak in Aba on Sunday.

Enyimba, whose two previous home games have ended in draws, beat Hearts away at the start of the group phase in July.

Hearts have no mathematical chance of qualification, leaving their ambitions restricted to scoring a goal after four games without finding the net.

Enyimba have an opportunity to go second in the group standings if ASEC can overcome Pirates.

Sunday's match is a first meeting between the two sides since Pirates famously snatched an away win over ASEC in Abidjan in the second leg of 1995 final, becoming the first South African club to win the continent's top club prize.

But this time they travel with a depleted squad, injury and suspension limiting their resources. Most likely to be missed is their Nigerian playmaker Onyekachi Okonkwo, who has a one-match suspension.

CS Sfaxien have arrived in Cairo early to prepare for Saturday's match with Al Ahli, the side they beat at the start of the group phase in July.

The Egyptian club play for the first time since full back Mohamed Abdelwahab collapsed and died on their training ground last week.

Ghana's Asante Kotoko can keep alive their chances if they beat JS Kabylie of Algeria in Saturday's other Group B match in Obuasi.

The top two finishers in each group qualify for the semi-finals, the first legs of which are scheduled for the end of the month.

The last round of the group phase is to be played next weekend.

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