Guide to the African Champions League pools

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and players. BackpagePix

The group stages of the African Champions League resume on Tuesday after a two-month break with some key clashes as the battle for the quarterfinal places commences.

With the opening two rounds having been played in May, there has been a long lay-off for some clubs, while others that have a domestic season which runs from February to November have been active.

That could be a key factor come Tuesday as there are clashes between the fresh, rested clubs and those that have some form but are perhaps wearier.

KweséESPN assesses the state of the pools ahead of the re-start.

Fixtures: Esperance (Tunisia) vs KCCA (Uganda)
Al-Ahly (Egypt) vs Township Rollers (Botswana)

Standings: Esperance 4pts, Rollers 3pts, KCCA 3pts, Al-Ahly 1pt
Summary: Township Rollers continue to surprise in this year's Champions League, though they are coming off a 4-1 away loss to Esperance in the previous round, although the scoreline does not reflect the flow of that game.

Esperance head the pool with four points and can cement their quarterfinal credentials with a home win over KCCA, who stunned Al-Ahly 2-0 in the previous round, a result that cost coach Hossam Al-Badry his job.

He has since been replaced by Frenchman Patrice Carteron, who must get the side's campaign back on track after just a single point from their opening two games.

They start with a home game against Rollers, who might fancy their chances of another surprise result.

TP Mazembe (DR Congo) vs MC Alger (Algeria)
ES Sétif (Algeria) vs Difaâ El Jadidi (Morocco)

Standings: Mazembe 6pts, MC Alger 4pts, El Jadidi 1pt, ES Sétif 0pts
Summary: Mazembe have been imperious in the pool so far with home and away wins, including a 4-1 demolition of Algerian strugglers ES Sétif.

They can virtually seal their place in the next round when they host another Algerian side, MC Alger, though defeat would see them knocked off top spot and also open the door for the other sides in the pool.

It is fair to say that both ES Sétif and Moroccan outfit Difaâ El Jadidi need victory to stand a chance of making the quarterfinals, with the former seeking to break their duck in the pool. This could be a pivotal round in the group.


Fixtures: AS Togo-Port (Togo) vs Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) vs Horoya (Guinea)

Standings: Wydad 4pts, Horoya 4pts, Sundowns 2pts, Togo-Port 0pts
Summary: Defending champions Wydad have made a strong start to the group with a good away point at Sundowns and then a handsome 3-0 win over pool minnows Togo-Port.

They have another home game against Guinea side Horoya, who don't look as though they will overly trouble the Moroccans despite sitting in second position in the pool.

Sundowns, who were 2016 African champions and knocked out by Wydad last year, have made a mediocre start having also been held 2-2 by Horoya in Conakry.

With Togo-Port seen as very much the minnows in the pool even this away clash in Lome is a must-win for coach Pitso Mosimane's side.

Wydad have already shown why they are favourites to advance from the pool, now Sundowns need to do likewise having had a close-season break for the first time in three years.

Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland) vs Étoile du Sahel (Tunisia)
ZESCO United (Zambia) vs Primeiro de Agosto (Angola)

Standings: Etoile 4pts, Swallows 4pts, Zesco 1pt, Primeiro 1pt
Summary: Swaziland side Swallows are another team from the Southern African region who continue to impress in continental club competition, but face their most stern test yet with the visit of Etoile.

Both sides have four points at the top of the pool and for the victor it will be a major step forward to the quarterfinals.

For the chasing pack it is a must-win weekend as Zesco host Primeiro de Agosto and while a point may be good for the Angolan side, it would spell disaster for the Zambians.

Etoile and Zesco are likely still the most accomplished teams in the pool but the latter now need to deliver on that potential.