Johannesburg (AFP) – Record eight-time title-holders Al Ahly were held 0-0 in Egypt by Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca Saturday, leaving them with little hope of reaching the CAF Champions League semi-finals.

Only the top two finishers in Group A qualify for the semi-finals and Ahly are bottom of the table halfway through the six-round mini-league phase, five points behind second-place Zesco United from Zambia.

Zesco boosted their chances of making the knockout phase of the premier African club football competition with an impressive 3-1 home victory over ASEC Mimosas from the Ivory Coast.

Wydad, coached by former Wales striker and manager John Toshack, top the standings with seven points and two of their remaining three fixtures are at home.

Zesco, seeking to reach the last four for the first time, have six points, ASEC three and pre-competition title favourites Ahly just one. 

Ahly coach and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol axed error-prone goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy and his promotion of long-time understudy Ahmed Adel was justified by a clean sheet.  

But the absence of star attackers Ramadan Sobhy and Gabonese Matick Evouna was sorely felt as Wydad extended a record of not conceding a goal in Africa to three matches.

Teenage midfielder Sobhy is “99 percent certain” to join Stoke City, according to the English Premier League club, with just some formalities outstanding.

Evouna is the latest African footballer wooed to China by huge salaries with Ahly reportedly being paid $8 million (7.25 million euros) by Super League club Tianjin Teda

Jackson Mwanza and John Ching’andu scored within four minutes to give a Zesco side that has exceeded expectations a 2-0 half-time lead.  

Youssouf Dao halved the deficit 13 minutes from time only for Democratic RepubIic of Congo-born Idris Mbombo to restore the two-goal advantage almost immediately.

In the only Group B fixture, Zamalek of Egypt host Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa Sunday.