After all eight protagonists opened their account in the CAF Champions League with a draw on the first weekend of the group phase earlier in July, Friday and Saturday’s matches provided a first glimpse of the potential front-runners for semi-final places, led by the Nigerians Enyimba.
The club from Aba won 3-2 away at Coton Sport of Cameroon to record only the 52nd away win in 15 years since the league format was introduced to the business end of the continent’s top club competition.
Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, Sudan’s Al Hilal and Esperance of Tunisia were the other weekend winners. Esperance beat pre-tournament favourites Al Ahly of Egypt by a single goal, while Wydad went to the top of Group B on goal difference after a 4-0 thrashing of neighbours Mouloudia Alger of Algeria. Edward Sadomba scored his third goal of the group phase with a penalty that secured Al Hilal victory over Raja Casablanca on Friday.
Enyimba hold on for rare win
Al Hilal and Enyimba now share top place in Group A, both on four points. Uche Kalu netted twice, including an 85th-minute winner, as Enyimba held on for a potentially precious three away points.
The Nigerians had been 2-0 up at half-time with Kalu scoring an eighth-minute free-kick and Chidozie Johnson adding a second in the 40th minute. But they let their lead slip as Chardin Reginal Mfoutou scored just after the break and then substitute Idrissa Seydou equalized for the home side in Garoua.
After snatching the winner, Kalu said: “I’m very happy to have scored two goals here. We came here to win and we did it. Now we are top of the group so let’s see what happens in our remaining games.”
Joining them at the summit are Al Hilal, whose win over Raja came courtesy of a penalty awarded for handball on the hour mark. Zimbabwe international Sadomba has now scored five goals in as many games for the Sudanese club in this year’s CAF Champions League.
We came here to win and we did it. Now we are top of the group.
Rampant Wydad got off to a quick start against MC Alger and never looked back as they forced an easy home win. Their Congolese import Fabrice Ondaza Nguessi was set up by Mouhssine Iajour after just two minutes and Ahmed Ajeddou’s penalty had them two ahead at half-time. Then came two more goals, from Ayoub El Khaliqi and the Benin international Pascal Angan, who finished the demolition with a late thunderbolt into the back of the net.
New boy swings North African derby
The match of the weekend pitted Esperance against Al Ahly at Rades on the outskirts of the Tunisian capital – a rematch of the bitter semi-final contest between the two club giants last year.
It was settled by a 14th-minute goal from Esperance’s new Cameroonian signing Yannick Ndjeng, purchased from JSM Bejaia in Algeria earlier in the month. The goal came off his head as he pounced on an in-swinging corner.
Al Ahly’s defeat was only the second for coach Manuel Jose in 22 league and cup games since he returned to the helm of the club at the start of the year.
The league phase reaches the midway point with the third set of group fixtures on the weekend of 12-14 August. Matches are scheduled to be played in Aba, Cairo, Casablanca and Khartoum.