Multi African title winners Etoile Sahel of Tunisia hit back twice to hold JSM Bejaia of Algeria 2-2 in a CAF Confederation Cup play-off this weekend.
Etoile, the only club to win all five CAF club competitions, are now favoured to win the return game at home and qualify for the group phase.
On a good weekend for seeded sides, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and Entente Setif of Algeria all won at home.
Stade hammered Lydia Academic of Burundi 5-0, FUS edged FAR 1-0 in a Rabat derby and Setif were 2-0 winners over US Bitam of Gabon.
Etoile, whose eight titles make them the third most successful African club behind Al-Ahly and Zamalek of Egypt, came under early pressure.
It paid off for Bejaia -- one of eight drop-outs from the CAF Champions League -- midway through the opening half when Mohamed Derrag scored.
Aymen Belaid levelled before half-time only for the Algerians to regain the lead through Nabil Fergani just before the hour mark.
But Malian Michailou Drame rescued the club from the Mediterranean resort Sousse with an equaliser three minutes from time.
Etoile are a formidable force at home, crushing Angolan visitors Recreativo de Caala 6-1 in a final-round qualifier earlier this month.
Bejaia have already lost to a Tunisian team this season, with a Champions League defeat by Esperance relegating them to the Confederation Cup.
But there should be an Algerian presence in the eight-club group stage with former African champions Setif building a useful advantage.
Bitam, who scored a Confederation Cup record 17 goals in a preliminary tie, shaded the early exchanges without converting any chances.
Hichem El-Okbi beat goalkeeper Stephane Bitsiki close to half-time and regular scorer Mohamed Amine Aoudia added a second after half-time.
Predictions of a tight showdown between Rabat rivals FUS and FAR proved spot on with an own goal separating the sides.
Yassine El-Kordy was the unlucky footballer, with his goal at the wrong end of the pitch after 10 minutes settling the outcome.
FUS (2010) and FAR (2005) have won the Confederation Cup, a second-tier competition offering a $660,000 (510,000 euros) first prize.
Stade, another former winner of the Cup among the challengers this season, are virtually assured of a last-eight slot.
Lydia ousted African title winners DC Motema Pembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast to qualify.
But they were overwhelmed by the Malians, who led 2-0 at half-time and added a further three goals after the break.
Another four fixtures are scheduled for later Sunday, including Enugu Rangers of Nigeria against twice title holders CS Sfaxien of Tunisia.