Holders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa secured their place in the quarter-finals of the African Champions League on Saturday along with Tunisian sides Esperance and Etoile du Sahel as the penultimate round of group matches continued.
Mamelodi Sundowns were 1-0 winners away to Saint George of Ethiopia in Group C courtesy of a late strike from Liberia international Anthony Laffor, in a match where Uganda’s national goalkeeper Dennis Onyango also saved a penalty for the reigning champions.
Esperance then drew 2-2 away to DR Congo’s AS Vita Club to advance along with Sundowns from Group C.
In an eventful game, Taha Yassine Khenissi gave Esperance an early lead before a Tady Etekiama Agity brace then put Vita Club 2-1 up.
The hosts suffered a big blow after Makwekwe Kupa was sent off, leaving Khenissi to hit an equaliser for Esperance from the penalty spot to secure their qualification.
Esperance lead Group C on nine points, with Mamelodi Sundowns a further point back.
Saint George are three points further adrift, but because of their head-to-head record, they would not be able to overtake the defending champions in the last round of matches.
Also on Saturday, Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel booked their place in the last eight from Group A with a 1-1 draw away to Ferroviario Beira in Mozambique.
Chelito Omar put the hosts ahead in the 73rd minute only for Slim Ben Belgacem to equalise from the penalty spot and secure the decisive point for Etoile.
The Tunisians are two points clear at the top of Group A after Al Merreikh beat rivals Al Hilal 2-1 in the Sudan derby on Friday night.
Mohammed Abdel-Rahman gave Al Merreikh a 2-0 lead with Mohamed Musa hitting a consolation goal for Al Hilal.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Zambian side Zanaco missed out on qualification after being held 0-0 at home in Group D by record eight-times winners Al Ahly of Egypt.
Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca hauled themselves back into contention in the group with a 2-0 win away to Cameroon’s Cotonsport Garoua in the later game.
Wydad are now two points adrift of group leaders Zanaco with Ahly a further point back.
Group B remains tight after the top two, Al Ahli Tripoli and USM Alger, drew 1-1 on Friday night.
They are both on eight points, three points ahead of Zamalek who travel to CAPS United on Sunday.
Only the top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the quarter-finals of this year’s African Champions League.