ALGERIA became the first country to have three clubs in the Caf Champions League group stage when Entente Setif, USM Alger and Mouloudia El Eulma won their last-16 ties.

Title-holders Setif and Eulma won penalty shootouts against Moroccans Raja Casablanca and Tunisians CS Sfaxien respectively at the weekend.

And USMA advanced after drawing with Guineans Kaloum in a match moved from Conakry to Malian capital Bamako due to the Ebola epidemic.

Clubs from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Tunisia had secured two places each in previous editions of the elite African competition.

Algeria were allocated three slots after Setif won the competition last season and the clubs took full advantage to create history.

Sudan were also celebrating after Al Hilal and El Merreikh qualified while the other three places were filled by Congolese TP Mazembe, Egyptians Smouha and Moroccans Moghreb Tetouan.

Only Setif and Mazembe have been crowned African champions and Eulma, Smouha and Tetouan are group-stage debutants.

Setif got the three-prong Algerian assault off to a successful start with a 4-1 shootout victory at home after a second 2-2 draw with Raja.

USM joined them by holding Kaloum 1-1 having taken a one-goal lead to West Africa. Malagasy Charles Andriamanitsinoro scored for the Algiers club and Aboubacar Sylla levelled. Eulma took a 1-0 lead over CS Sfaxien to Tunisia and the return match produced another home win by the same scoreline with Maher Hannachi netting just after half-time. The shootout went 7-6 in favour of the Algerians when Ghazi Chellouf missed.

Defeat for Sfaxien completed a disastrous weekend for Tunisia with two-time champions Esperance also making an unexpected exit despite beating Merrikh 2-1 in Rades. The Sudanese advanced on the away-goal rule having won 1-0 in Omdurman two weeks ago..

Hilal exceeded expectations by winning both games against Sanga Balende of the DR Congo 1-0 with Saif Masawi scoring the second-leg goal in Omdurman. Recent signing Roger Assale scored the match and tie-clincher as Mazembe edged Malians Stade Malien 2-1 in the Congolese city Lubumbashi.

As in the 2-2 first leg in Bamako, the return game was a thriller with Jean Kasusula giving Mazembe a lead in the middle of the first half.

Ousmane Diabate levelled midway through the second half only for Ivorian Assale to score three minutes later.

A draw to split the eight survivors into two groups is scheduled for Tuesday in Cairo.


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