There were 60 and now, there are just eight. The cream of African football steps up the battle towards the most coveted club trophy in the continent, the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League, with the quarter finals starting this weekend.
Defending champions Al Ahly lead the lot of the teams to earn a ticket to the last eight, and the journey to whittle down the number to the top side takes a new gear.
Al Ahly v Raja Club Athletic – Al Salam Stadium Cairo, Saturday 20h00 GMT
These two sides clash in the first leg at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, just slightly less than five months since they last met, in the CAF Super Cup which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Ahly, winners of the Champions League last season, ultimately triumphed over the Confederation Cup champions on penalties.
ES Setif vs Esperance – Stade du 5 Juillet 1962, Algiers, Friday 21h00 GMT
Esperance was one of the only two sides to finish the group phase of the competition without suffering defeat to top their group and will be travelling to Algeria to start off the quarter-final journey against Setif who last reached the quarters in 2018.
The Algerians who have one Champions League title, won in 2014, will be looking to make the best of their home advantage, to ease the burden of battling for a win in Rades in the return fixture.
Petro de Luanda vs Mamelodi Sundowns – Estádio 11 de Novembro, Luanda, Saturday 16h00 GMT
The battle of the two southern Africa countries will kick off in Luanda on Saturday night, their third meeting in the recent past in the Champions League.
They last met in the 2019-20 season, Sundowns winning the first leg 3-0 at home before drawing 2-2 in Luanda.
CR Belouizdad v Wydad Club Athletic – Stade du 5 Juillet 1962, Algiers, Saturday 21h00 GMT
Belouizdad and Wydad are meeting for the first time in the Champions League, both coming into the game with almost fortunes.
Wydad have not lost a match since February 23 when they were defeated 2-0 by Hassania Agadir. They have won seven of their last eight matches. CRB have also won seven of their last 10 fixtures, losing only once against Esperance in the Champions League last month.