Holders Esperance join previous champions in last eight

Etoile du Sahel fans celebrate their team's passage to the group phase in Ivory Coast
Etoile du Sahel fans celebrate their team's passage to the group phase in Ivory Coast

Title-holders Esperance of Tunisia were among four former winners to book their place in the lucrative group phase of the African Champions this weekend.

Esperance, who defeated Dynamos of Zimbabwe 7-1 on aggregate, were joined by compatriots Etoile du Sahel, DR Congo's TP Mazembe and Egypt's Zamalek.

Zamalek beat Morocco's MAS 2-0 at home on Sunday for a 4-0 aggregate win.

A fifth former champion will make it through if fellow Egyptians Al Ahly beat Stade Malien on Monday.

The six-time winners of Africa's premier club competition must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in Mali to make it through.

Four-time champions Mazembe booked their place in the last eight when drawing in Sudan on Saturday night.

The Congolese overcame troubled preparations to force a 1-1 draw at Al Merreikh and a 3-1 aggregate win, with Zambia's Nathan Sinkala giving Mazembe the lead after 56 minutes before Kelechi Osunwa levelled 15 minutes from time.

Algeria's AS Chlef completed a disappointing weekend for Sudanese clubs as they knocked out Al Hilal on penalties.

The game in Algeria ended 1-1, with Alaa Eldin Yousif opening the scoring for the visitors before Karim Hadji scored an 81st-minute equaliser to level the scores at 2-2.

That took the game to penalties, where the Algerians triumphed 4-2 in the shoot-out to book their place in the group phase for the first time.

Last year's defending champions also made it through, as Tunisians Esperance drew 1-1 against Dynamos in Zimbabwe on Sunday to ease into the group phase with a 7-1 aggregate win.

Esperance were joined by compatriots Etoile du Sahel in the last eight, even though the 2007 African champions were beaten 1-0 by AF Amadou Diallo of Ivory Coast on Saturday.

Zambia international Nathan Sinkala opened the scoring for Mazembe in Sudan
Zambia international Nathan Sinkala opened the scoring for four-time champions Mazembe in Sudan

Having won the first leg 4-1 in Tunisia, Etoile were never in much danger - even when Henri Konan scored for the Ivorians on the hour mark.

"From the start of the match there was a chance of qualification," disappointed AFAD coach Amani Yao told BBC Sport.

"We were facing a team that has its weak points, notably on the wings, something we saw in the away leg.

"In the first half we lacked a certain effectiveness in the final 20 metres, and we weren't in front of goal enough. We needed more people there to profit from the chances we created. Unfortunately things didn't work.

"I don't have a great deal to say in terms of criticism - we played well. We lack power and experience against these types of players and we need to carry on working, but we've still got plenty of progress to make."

Two West African clubs also reached the group stages, as Ghana's Berekum Chelsea won 2-1 in Cameroon to defeat Coton Sport by the same aggregate scoreline.

Meanwhile, Sunshine Stars of Nigeria used home advantage to good effect as Izu Azuka's lone goal sunk visiting Malian side Djoliba 1-0 and ensured the Nigerians advanced as 2-1 aggregate winners.

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