CAF Champions League: Five star men of the group stage

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We're four games into the extended CAF Champions League group stage, with Africa's finest sides competing for a spot in the knockout stages.

The four pools have firmly taken shape, although with two matches to play, none of the field have confirmed their spot in the quarterfinals, and only Cameroon giants Coton Sports are already eliminated after losing all of their fixtures so far.

In light of the midweek fixtures, KweséESPN profiles five of the competition's stand-out players so far.

Saladin Said, Saint George: Ethiopians Saint George have wholly failed to translate their domestic form into the continental arena, but have appeared capable of troubling the big boys this time around.

In contrast to their famously brittle national side, they've defended stoutly -- only one side have conceded fewer -- and were unbeaten before Wednesday's defeat by AS Vita Club.

Said, so long the talisman for the Walias, scored the winner in a monumental victory over the Congolese side in Addis Ababa, and led by example in the memorable 0-0 draw with African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria on matchday one.

He also netted five during the preliminary rounds, making him the competition's current top scorer.

Ronald Chitiyo, CAPS United: Midfielder Chitiyo has been linked with a move to the South African top flight in recent weeks, and anyone watching his performances in the Champions League will understand the appeal for his would-be PSL suitors.

Despite the recent death of his mentor Edzai Kasinauyo, Chitiyo has demonstrated his leadership qualities by rallying his Zimbabwean teammates to demonstrate their class on the continent's grandest stage and not to be overawed by the quality of their opponents.

Personally, he's been successful -- notably netting twice in the memorable 2-1 victory over USM Alger in late May.

However, CAPS have lost their other three matches -- including falling 4-2 to Al-Ahli Tripoli in their last two games -- and now have it all to do.

Bakri Al-Madina, Al-Merreikh: Despite never winning CAF's Africa-based Player of the Year award, there aren't too many players currently plying their trade on the continent who enjoy a greater standing in the continental game than Al-Madina.

The temperamental attacker, nicknamed the Scorpion, made the controversial move to switch to Al-Merreikh from Al-Hilal, and has found himself up against his former employers in this year's group stage.

However, he's always been a big-game player. Be it for Sudan -- scoring the winner against Nigeria in 2014 -- or in scoring a hat-trick in the qualifier against Rivers United, as Al-Merreikh battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first leg to win 4-3 on aggregate.

Hameur Bouazza, Etoile du Sahel: After spending the entirety of his career in Europe, former Watford and Fulham attacker Bouazza moved to Tunisian heavyweights ESS earlier this year.

So far, the Algeria international is proving to be a hit, having adapted seamlessly to life full-time in North Africa. He's struck three goals in the Champions League so far, including two in the group stage.

Bouazza's budding relationship with Brazilian forward Diogo Acosta has been a joy to watch, and the 32-year-old has brought that little bit of guile that has helped Etoile du Sahel to top spot in the group after four matches.

Indeed, Hubert Velud's side should really have already secured their spot in the knockout rounds, but after conceding late equalisers in their pair of matches against Al-Hilal, they still need to secure their place in the final eight.

Tady Etekiama, AS Vita Club: Three games into their Champions League group stage campaign, Congolese giants Vita Club appeared destined for a swift elimination after falling to a trio of defeats.

However, Congo-born Rwandan hitman Etekiama breathed life into their campaign with a double to down Saint George on Tuesday evening.

Etekiama, who also scored twice against Swazi side Royal Leopards in the preliminary round, was once suspended by CAF for two years after using two different identities, often looks like a player trying to make up for lost time ... and it's easy to understand why!

In the short-term, he's given Vita Club a lifeline in the Champions League, and he'll be desperate to inspire them into the knockout rounds.