Mahmoud Kahraba scored a hat-trick as the 10-time continental champions triumphed 4-0 at Coton Sport of Cameroon in a must-win match in Group B last night.
Despite the impressive victory, however, Ahly will be eliminated if Al Hilal of Sudan win at home to already qualified Mamelodi Sundowns this afternoon (15:00 – LIVE on SABC Sport Channel on DTT Channel 4, Openview 124, SABC + and sabcsport.com).
The Brazilians have 10 points and Hilal nine from four matches played, while Ahly have moved to seven and Coton Sport remain on zero from five outings, with group winners and runners-up progressing.
Should Hilal draw or lose, who accompanies Sundowns to the knockout phase will be decided on March 31 or April 1 when the Sudanese outfit are away to Ahly.
Stunned by a 5-2 loss at Sundowns last weekend, Ahly made six changes for the match in central Africa, with Kahraba among those promoted from the bench.
He rewarded Swiss coach Marcel Koller by scoring twice within six minutes midway through the opening half, finishing crosses from Mohamed 'Afsha' Magdy and Tau.
Kahraba, with his head bandaged after an early first-half collision with Coton goalkeeper Gabin Allambatnan, completed his treble six minutes into the second half.
Tau, outstanding as a wide attacker for the second successive weekend, completed the rout soon after by cutting in and scoring with a shot that beat Chadian Allambatnan at his near post.
The Red Devils were forced to change goalkeepers at half-time with Ali Lotfy replacing Mohamed El Shenawy, who injured his left thigh just before the break.
Elsewhere, Esperance of Tunisia and Chabab Belouizdad of Algeria secured quarter-finals places from Group D at the expense of Al Merrikh of Sudan and Zamalek of Egypt.
Four-time champions Esperance drew 1-1 with Merrikh, who were forced to play in the Libyan city of Benghazi because their home ground in Omdurman is not up to international standards.
Mohamed Ali Ben Hammouda scored his third goal of the African campaign for Esperance midway through the first half and Brazilian Paulo Sergio levelled from a last-minute penalty.
Belouizdad sealed a third straight last-eight appearance thanks to a 2-0 victory over five-time title-holders Zamalek in Algiers.
Zakaria Draoui broke the deadlock with 15 minutes remaining and Cameroonian Leonel Wamba doubled the lead almost immediately.
© Agence France-Presse