Algerian side Setif travelled to Gambia for Saturday's contest at the Banjul Mini-Stadium following a turbulent week that saw goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia suspended by the club until the end of the season.
The uncertainty appeared to be replicated on the pitch as Modou Jallow put the hosts into a 57th-minute lead.
Setif ensured that they would return home for the second leg on April 2 with a draw, though, when Mohamed Bouchar levelled proceedings in the 72nd minute.
Al Ahly, the record eight-time winners, put one foot in the next round as the Egyptian champions were 2-0 victors at APR - Emad Moteab's double downing the Rwandan side.
There were differing fortunes for South African sides Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, the former were beaten 1-0 at home by Raja Casablanca, but the latter won by the same scoreline at home to TP Mazembe.
The matches between Cotonsport and Sanga Balende, and Eulma versus Asante Kotoko ended in 0-0 stalemates, while Kaloum Star earned a 1-1 draw at Zesco.
Stade Malien Bamako will take a 3-1 lead back to Mali in their tie against Mangasport, while Al-Merreikh were 2-0 victors at home to Kabuscorp.
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