Downs' CAF Champions League quarterfinals potential opponents

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Mamelodi Sundowns’ commanding display in the CAF Champions League has left them as the only confirmed group winners yet faced with the likelihood of yet another draining quarterfinal trip to North Africa.

Sundowns have won Group A and will be joined by holders Al Ahly if they avoid defeat at home to Sudanese club Al Hilal.

The other six teams through to the quarterfinals are also already known but still have to sort themselves out in the order of group winners and runners-up in the last round of fixtures over the first weekend of April.

That final round of fixtures will determine the three runners-up from which one will be selected as the opponent for Sundowns in the last eight with CAF regulations stating that group winners (seeded) play runners-up (unseeded).

Teams from the same group cannot be drawn against each other in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals draw is due to be held after the completion of the group stages matches which come to an end on the first weekend of next month (April 1-3).

Fixtures of the quarterfinals will be played over the weekend of April 15-16 and April 22-23 while the semi-finals will be on May 6-7 and May 13-14.

Raja Casablanca are three-time winners of the Champions League but were last champions in 1999 with their most recent success on the continent having come last year when they lifted the Confederation for the second time within four years.

They have also won the CAF Super Cup.

Algerian club ES Setif have had documented financial troubles but remain competitive both on the local and continental space.

They finished second in their domestic league last term and have twice gone up the podium as kings of Africa with their most recent success in 2014 when they got the better of AS Vita in the final.

They were CAF Super Cup winners the following year.

Tunisian heavyweights Esperance – the most successful club from the North African country have four Champions League titles to their name with two of them won in the last four years.

They have also won the CAF Super Cup which they did the year after lifting their first ever Champions League title in 1994.

The Beast of Africa are always a threat and have their former player Radhi Ben Jaidi in charge of their dressing room.

Another Algerian club in the last eight is CR Belouizdad.

They are the reigning champions of Algeria but have never won any continental title and came up against Sundowns in last season’s Champions’ League group stages and went on to get stuck in the quarter-finals which is their best showing to this date in the competition.

Their ambitions have grown in recent years as evidenced by how they have progressed.

Wydad Casablanca have been Moroccan champions 21 times and have two Champions League titles to their name.

They ruled the continent in 1992 and again in 2017 and have also won the CAF Super Cup (2018) along with the now defunct CAF Cup Winners’ Cup and CAF Cup.

Wydad have had running battles with Sundowns in recent times with the Moroccans having the edge after winning four, losing three with another three ending as draws. 

Since 2011 they have always gone past the group stages whenever (eight times) they have played Champions League football.

Petro de Luanda is the most successful club from Angola and have no continental title to their name.

Based in Luanda, they will provide the shortest trip for The Brazilians if they finish second and get to be drawn against the PSL champions.

Though they might sound rather lightweight of all the teams through to the last eight they are unbeaten in the group ahead of their visit to Casablanca for the final group match.

They are vastly improved from the whipping boys that they were in last season’s Champions League playing in a group featuring Kaizer Chiefs and Wydad.

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