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The Three Teams That Could Draw Downs In CAF CL QFs

Mamelodi Sundowns could be drawn against two Tanzanian giants or a north African club in the CAF CL quarter-finals.

With Mamelodi Sundowns winning their CAF Champions League group for the sixth successive season, we highlight the three African giants that could face the DStv Premiership champions in the next round of the competition.

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Rulani Mokwena’s charges will face one of three continental giants in the first phase of the tournament’s knockout rounds. Potentially on the cards for the Tshwane-based outfit are Tanzanian duo Simba SC and Young Africans, while a clash with three-time tournament winners Esperance de Tunis could also be on the horizon for the South African champions.

The most formidable opponent among the aforementioned is arguably the Tunisian outfit. North Africa is not prevalent in this year’s edition of the knockout stages, with no Algerian or Moroccan side qualifying for the last eight of the tournament. Esperance, however, are fly the Tunisian flag high, having qualified for an eighth successive appearance at this stage of the CAF CL.

Esperance de Tunis

Sundowns have only managed one victory in the entirety of their history against Esperance de Tunis.

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While their form in the league has been exceptional, going the entirety of their Ligue Professionale 1 regular season without defeat so far, there has been a lack of continuity as far as their managers are concerned. In 2023/24, the Red and Yellows have already had three different head coaches, with Moin Chaabani having started it in the club’s helm, before Tarek Thabet took over coaching responsibilities. Portuguese tactician Miguel Cardoso has since taken the reins at the Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi.

This season, however, they do not have the continental lustre they usually display, losing to TP Mazembe in the African Football League quarter-finals, before ultimately being eliminated in the next round by Wydad Athletic Club. In the Champions League, this is the first time Esperance have finished as runners-up in their group since the 2017/18 season. They did win the competition that season, but perhaps Sundowns will be keen on drawing them at this apparent moment of instability for them.

Sundowns also face the prospect of drawing two Dar es Salaam teams in the form of Simba and Yanga. Tanzanian football seems to be growing, with the Reds of Msimbazi having qualified for only their fourth appearance of this stage of the CAF CL. This is their second back-to-back appearance in the quarter-finals, having also qualified for this phase of the tournament between 2018/19 and 2020/21.

They have been failing to impress in their domestic league, though, as they trail Young Africans by seven points, and making it to their first Champions League semi-final may be a step too far for them this time around. Last season, they almost accomplished it, but were defeated by Wydad on penalties.

Simba and Sundowns have never played each other, but the former’s record against South African teams is not good, having won only one game out of the four matches played against Kaizer Chiefs and Santos.

Their counterparts, also known as Yanga, perhaps have a better chance of giving Ka Bo Yellow a run for their money. Despite the fact that the reigning Tanzanian Premier League champions are making their first appearance in the final eight in 54 years, they have been dominant domestically in recent seasons.

Young Africans

This is the first time Yanga have made it as far as the Champions League quarter-finals since the 1969/70 season.

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They almost won the CAF Confederation Cup, having made it all the way to the final last year. Unfortunately for their supporters, their adventure was ended by USM Alger, but they have seemingly carried their continental momentum to CAF’s top-tier club tournament with Miguel Gamondi, a man who is well-versed in club competition in Africa.  

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Yanga and Sundown have met in the CAF CL before, in 2001, and on that occasion, it was the DStv Premiership side that was triumphant, inflicting a 6-5 aggregate defeat on their east African counterparts.

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