Record eight-time winners Al Ahly went out of the African Champions League on Saturday, losing their last-16 second leg 4-3 on penalties to Morocco’s Moghreb Tetouan after the tie had ended 1-1 on aggregate.
Ahly, who lost the away leg 1-0, levelled the tie in Cairo thanks to a first half goal from Abdallah Said.
With the contest level at 1-1, neither side could find a winner, resulting in a decisive penalty shoot-out which the Moroccans won 4-3 to reach the lucrative group phase.
Moghreb converted four consecutive kicks while Ahly failed twice with Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan blazing wide and Hossam Ghaly having his shot saved.
The match was played behind closed doors due to security concerns.
Ahly, coached by Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido, drop into the Confederation Cup – Africa’s second tier club tournament – a competition the Egyptians won for the first time last year.
Better news for Egyptian debutants Smouha who are through to the next stage of the Champions League after a 2-1 aggregate win over Congolese club AC Leopards.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, goals from Ahmed Shoukry and Salah Amin gave Smouha a memorable victory.
Holders Entente Setif squeezed into the group phase, after their goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia saved two Raja Casablanca spot-kicks in the decisive shoot-out.
The Algerians defeated the Moroccans 4-1 on penalties after the second leg in Setif finished 2-2, leaving the North African clubs tied at 4-4 on aggregate.
Goals early in each half from El Hedi Belameiri and captain Mourad Delhoum earned Setif a two-goal advantage.
Abdelilah Hafidi halved the deficit and Adil Karrouchy equalised off a rebound on 95 minutes after his penalty had been parried, taking the tie to penalties.
Recalled goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia, who was axed from a round-of-32 tie after refusing to travel to the Gambia, then became Setif’s hero.
While Setif clinically converted four spot-kicks in a row, the France-born goalkeeper saved the first two Raja attempts to earn his club a memorable triumph.
Algeria are hoping to have a record three clubs in the group stage of the elite African club competition this season.
USM Alger and Mouloudia El Eulma face challenging routes to the last-eight stage.
USM hold a 2-1 advantage over Guineans AS Kaloum , who must host their second leg in neighbouring Mali because of the Ebola epidemic.
Eulma are slightly better off as they did not concede a goal at home when winning 1-0 against vastly more experienced Tunisian outfit CS Sfaxien.
Setif, USM and Eulma are hoping to create history as three clubs from the same country have never made it to the Champions League group stage.
Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Tunisia did best with two clubs, and all three nations have two challengers for group places this weekend.
TP Mazembe, the most successful DR Congo club in Africa with four Champions League titles, host Stade Malien following a 2-2 draw in Mali.
But compatriots Sanga Balende, making a rare appearance, are in trouble having lost 1-0 at home to Sudanese Al Hilal.
Esperance are the other Tunisian challengers and trail El Merrikh 1-0 from the first leg in Sudan.