Favourites stumble as group stage starts
© AFP

With two of the scheduled games in the first matchday of the CAF Champions League being postponed, all the attention was focused on southern Africa, where Angola's Recreativo Libolo hosted Tunisian giants Esperance and Orlando Pirates who were at home against the surprise team from the Congo, AC Leopards.

The Egyptian derby between Zamalek and Al Ahly in Group A is to be played on Wednesday in the El Gouna Stadium, while the Group B encounter between Cameroon club Coton Sport and their Coté d'Ivoire visitors Sewe Sport is provisionally scheduled for next weekend, pending CAF go-ahead.

Game of the week
Orlando Pirates 0-0 AC Leopards
The Buccaneers, winners in 1995, were making their first appearance in the group phase of the competition since 2006, when they were knocked out by Tunisian club CS Sfaxien in the semi-finals. Even though Leopards last season stunned the rest of the field to take Africa's second tier trophy, the CAF Confederation Cup, the home side were very much the favourites to get their Group A campaign off to a winning start. And Pirates did dominate the proceedings, but the Johannesburg side were simply unable to get the ball into the back of the net. New-signing Lennox Bacela had the best chance of the game shortly after the half-time restart but saw his attempt cleared off the line. The unexpected draw left Leopards coach Joseph Marius Omog satisfied, though he insisted the visitors could have gotten more from the game. "If the players had understood what I expected of them, we should have done much better,” he said.

The other match
Recreativo Libolo opened their Group B campaign against the 1994 and 2011 champions Esperance with a stunning performance and result. The Angolan champions dominated the game but found it difficult to get the break-through, with Tunisian goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia pulling off a number of excellent saves. His Recreativo counterpart was similarly on form as he denied Youcef Belaïli and Sameh Derbali. The hosts continued pushing forward after the break, and Esperance needed a timely interception from former Bundesliga star Anthar Yahia to deny the home side an opener. Simoes then thought he had won the game for the home side near the death when his header from a free-kick beat Ben Cherifia, but the defender saw the ball crash against the post. More drama was to follow though as forward Aguinaldo Policarpo gave Recreativo a 1-0 win in injury time.

Player of the week
Playing in their first-ever CAF Champions League group match, Angolan club Recreativo Libolo seemed on course to play out a goalless draw at home against Esperance, who had reached three consecutive continental finals. However, 24-year-old striker Aguinaldo Policarpo, who returned to Angola from Cypriot club Paphos this year, found a late injury-time winner for his new side to the delight of the home crowd.

The stat
7 – The number of years that South African club Orlando Pirates has been waiting for a victory in the group stage of the CAF Champions League. The Buccaneers beat Nigerian club Enyimba in September 2006, but has not won another three points since.

What they said
“If it was a boxing match I think we would have won on points, but it wasn't, so you have to put the ball in the back of the net. The guys are a bit rusty and they are not 100 per-cent but they were still competitive out there and will get better,” Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sa said after his side's 0-0 draw at home against AC Leopards.

Have your say
After sensationally winning the CAF Confederation Cup last season, can AC Leopards cause another upset this time around in the CAF Champions League?