Predicting the CAF Champions League group-stage line-up

Wydad Athletic Club player Amin Tighazoui vs. TP Mazembe Deogracias Kanda a Mukok BackpagePix

Following the midweek CAF Champions League First Round first-leg clashes across Africa, KweséESPN predicts the 16 teams we're backing to reach the group stage.

Dead Certs

While nothing is entirely confirmed at this stage, three of Africa's bona-fide giants have almost certainly ensured their progression to the group stage after one-sided results in their First Round first-leg bouts.

Holders Wydad Casablanca suffered something of a scare after falling behind to minnows Williamsville AC only two minutes into their bout.

However, while the Ivorians pulled off a surprise when they ousted Stade Malien in the last round, don't expect them to repeat the trick after Wydad overcame their early setback to run out 7-2 winners.

Ismail El-Haddad and Mohamed Nahiri were both key men in Morocco's African Nations Championship squad, and back in Casablanca - where they won the CHAN a month ago - the duo delivered outstanding displays.

The former netted a late hat-trick to surely kill off the contest, while Nahiri also netted in the second half and was a key threat throughout.

Set to be joining Wydad in the group stage are last season's defeated finalists Al-Ahly.

The Egyptian giants made light work of CF Mounana of Gabon, and while they took a strong hold on the tie after two goals inside the first 21 minutes, Abdallah Said's second-half double - two goals in the space of four minutes - completed a 4-0 victory.

It's surely enough to see them through to the next round, where they'll likely be joined by Tout Puissant Mazembe.

The Congolese giants - and five-time winners - crushed debutants UD Songo of Mozambique 4-0, and it would take a remarkable comeback in the return match to send Les Corbeaux out.

One foot in the group stage

Plateau United coach Kennedy Boboye told KweséESPN that he's confident his side will progress to the group stages despite their 4-2 first-leg defeat by Etoile du Sahel in Sousse.

But we're not convinced.

The reigning NPFL champions were let off - to an extent - as their hosts took their foot off the gas in the second half and allowed them back into the clash with two goals in the last 20 minutes.

Plateau had appeared out of their depth early on - they were 3-0 down after eight minutes - and ESS surely have the firepower to unsettle United's uncertain defence again.

One away goal for the Tunisians will make things very difficult.

Mamelodi Sundowns were ineffective away at Rayon Sports of Rwanda - being held to a 0-0 draw - however, they have the quality and the pedigree to see off the Central Africans in Pretoria.

Township Rollers dumped Sudanese giants Al-Merrikh out in the Preliminary Round - the biggest giant-killing of the tournament so far - and are threatening to do the same to Tanzania's Young Africans.

The Rollers are an ambitious outfit, and have their sights set on being considered among Africa's giants. They're unlikely to let their 2-1 advantage slip when they return to Gaborone in the return clash.

On paper, MFM FC's 2-1 victory over MC Alger - surely the club's greatest result - appears to be a slender margin, and the away goal could prove costly.

However, despite their mixed domestic form, the CAF Champions League new boys have the strength of character and the attacking quality to trouble the Algerians.

We're tipping MFM FC to sneak through when they travel to Algiers on March 17.

In the balance

Aduana Stars secured one of the best results in their history when they defeated Algeria's ES Setif 1-0 at home in the first leg.

Stars are lacking pedigree at this level - this is only their second appearance in the competition - while the recurring postponements of the Ghana Premier League have left them without regular competition in the build-up to this one.

While their first-leg victory is a superb result, it remains to be seen whether they have enough about them to hold onto their advantage in Algeria against the two-time champions.

It's a similar story for Gor Mahia.

They deserve immense credit for holding Esperance de Tunis 0-0 at home on Wednesday, but the Tunisians surely won't be that blunt up front again, and have the quality to blow the Kenyan giants away in the return match.

Never before has a Swazi side reached the group stage of Africa's premier club competition, but that could be primed to change this term after Mbabane Swallows' 2-1 triumph over Zanaco in Lusaka.

Swallows bounced back from a goal down to win 2-1 after strikes from Felix Badenhorst and Richard Mccreesh, but they conceded five over two legs in the Preliminary Round, and Zanaco will surely fancy their chances of turning this one around in Lombamba.

KCCA FC will be concerned that they've missed a valuable opportunity to nab an away goal after being held 0-0 in Ethiopia against Saint George.

They still ought to be quietly confident that they can win the tie in a one-off showdown in Kampala, although the threat of an away goal for Saint George looms large.

Horoya's 2-1 victory against Generation Foot in the first leg at home gives them the advantage, although they'll be wary of how the Senegalese champions dumped Misr El-Maqassa out of the Preliminary Round.

ASEC Mimosas are in an even stronger position after winning 1-0 away at ZESCO United, but the Zambians have the experience and the firepower to turn this tie around in Abidjan.

Despite falling to a 2-0 defeat away at AS Togo-Port, Al-Hilal should have the quality to overcome the disadvantage in front of their home fans, although they'll need a strong start.

AS Vita Club will be quietly confident of doing the same despite falling to a 1-0 defeat by Difaa El Jadidi in Morocco.

The standout performers of the Preliminary Round were predictably much less dominant against a sterner opponent, and their defence will be tested in Kinshasa.

While we're tipping Sundowns to overturn a poor result in their first leg, it remains to be seen if their compatriots - Bidvest Wits - can do the same.

A late 1-0 defeat away at Primeiro de Agosto isn't the worst result, but the Clever Boys made worryingly hard work of Pamplemousses in the previous round, and will have to raise their game.