A new name will be engraved on the CAF Confederation Cup trophy this season as the Moroccan near monopoly of the competition comes to an end.
In the semi-final first legs on Wednesday, Young Africans of Tanzania host Marumo Gallants of South Africa and ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast entertain USM Alger of Algeria.
The line-up contains several surprise qualifiers and is unusual in that the dominant region in African club football — the north — has only one representative.
Moroccan clubs Raja Casablanca and Renaissance Berkane each won two of the previous five finals with Egyptian outfit Zamalek the other side to win the African equivalent of the Europa League.
AFP Sport introduces some of the stars who could play key roles in deciding which teams advance to the final.
Young Africans forward Fiston Mayele has scored 12 goals this season in the two CAF club competitions — the Champions League and Confederation Cup.
A 28-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he bagged seven goals in the Champions League, including two hat-tricks.
When the Dar es Salaam outfit were demoted to the Confederation Cup, he continued to torment rivals, scoring the two goals that eliminated Rivers United of Nigeria in the last round.
Ranga Chivaviro of Marumo is the joint leading scorer in the Confederation Cup with six goals, and will appreciate the hot weather forecast for the first leg against Young Africans.
“I spent six months playing for a club in Kosovo two years ago and could not get used to the cold conditions,” said the 30-year-old.
His quarter-final first-leg header against Pyramids in Egypt earned Gallants an unexpected draw, and a solitary goal gave the South Africans victory in the return match.
It is 24 years since ASEC last experienced African glory by defeating Tunisian giants Esperance to lift the CAF Super Cup one season after winning the CAF Champions League.
Now, the goals of Aubin Kramo and Pacome Zouzoua have brought the Abidjan outfit to the brink of another final appearance.
Kramo has netted four times and Zouzoua on three occasions as ASEC hope to become the third west African winners of the competition after Hearts of Oak from Ghana and Stade Malien of Mali.
Sharpshooter Aymen Mahious experienced heartbreak this year as hosts Algeria lost a penalty shootout against Senegal in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) final.
He was one the stand-out players in the tournament for home-based stars, scoring the only goal in each of three group victories and winning the Golden Boot with five goals.
Mahious has proven equally threatening in the Confederation Cup by netting three times — one of four USM players to achieve that feat in the African campaign.
Young Africans, Marumo, ASEC and USM are carrying the hopes of four countries who have never lifted the Confederation Cup since its introduction in 2004.
South African clubs Orlando Pirates (twice) and SuperSport United have lost finals while a similar fate befell Algerian trio Entente Setif, Mouloudia Bejaia and JS Kabylie.
Sewe Sport were the only finalists from the Ivory Coast, losing to Egyptian giants Al Ahly in 2014, while Young Africans are the first Tanzanian side to get beyond the quarter-finals.