Al Ahly hold the aces ahead of ES Setif trip
Africa's most successful club Al Ahly are confident of completing the job as they travel to Algeria to face ES Setif in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday.
Ahly, who hold a record eight titles in the continent's elite club competition, lead 2-0 from the home leg and can seal a 12th visit to the final if they can keep the Algerians at bay.
There has been mixed injury news for coach Patrice Carteron, a Champions League winner with TP Mazembe in 2015, as he welcomes back the experienced quartet of Saad Samir, Ahmed Fathy, Mido Gaber and Salah Mohsen for the clash.
Fathy has flown with the squad to Algeria despite picking up a knock in training on Saturday and will be assessed ahead of the game.
But that news is tempered by the loss of Momen Zakaria, Nasser Maher, Akram Tawfik, Ali Maaloul, Sherif Ekramy, Junior Ajayi and Mohamed Naguib, though many of those have been on the long-term casualty list.
Walid Soliman and Islam Mohareb struck first-half goals for Ahly in the first leg, and they now take an impressive away record to Setif.
Ahly have only lost once in their last 21 away matches in all competitions, conceding just one goal in their last six, with Carteron's ability to make them compact in defence a secret to their success this season.
It is that brick wall that Setif must break down -- at least twice -- if they are to get themselves back into the tie.
The second semifinal sees Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto protect a 1-0 lead as they travel to Tunisian side Esperance.
Since the first-leg loss, Esperance have also been beaten 2-0 by CS Sfaxien in the Tunisian league and are winless in a month, not the kind of form to inspire confidence.
But their only two defeats at home in the Champions League in their last 15 games have come against Ahly, and they will be confident of turning over the Angolans.
Primeiro are seeking to become the first ever club from Angola to book a final place in the Champions League and that chance of history is a massive carrot to be dangled for their players.
They have just a single defeat in 14 Champions League games this season -- a surprise 1-0 loss to Swaziland side Mbabane Swallows -- and have looked impressive.
No side has scored more than one goal against them in this competition since 2014 and they will know all too well that if they can grab a goal in Tunis, it will leave their opponents needing to score three times.
The final of the Champions League will be played on the weekends of November 2-4 and 9-11, just two weeks before the start of the revised 2018-19 tournament that will run from November to May.