North African countries look like continuing their recent domination of the CAF Champions League with all but one of the six clubs involved in preliminary round action making it through to the first round proper.
Game of the week
Smouha 1-0 Al-Ahli Tripoli
The only North African club to fail to advance were Al-Ahli Tripoli – beaten in an all North African tie. Last season Al-Ahli stunned their Cairo namesakes to qualify for the group stage of the competition and they would have fancied their chances of at least making it out of the preliminary round against Egyptian first-timers Smouha. A 1-0 win in the first leg was not enough of a cushion for the away leg in Alexandria, and Smouha, who were only promoted to the Egyptian Premier League for the first time in their history five years ago, got the goal they needed shortly after the break through Salah Amin. They then prevailed 5-3 on penalties after neither side managed to score another goal.
Al-Merrikh 3-0 Azam FC
Ambitious and big-spending Tanzanian club Azam FC won their home leg against Al-Merrikh 2-0 and were favoured to hold onto their advantage in Sudan. But it was not to be and their first Champions League campaign came to an abrupt end as the home side scored three without reply in Khartoum to advance 3-2 on aggregate. Azam assistant coach George Nsimbe said they would learn from the experience. “We were just unfortunate to lose by that margin. We will go back to the drawing board, win the home title and then be back next year.”
It was a good weekend for South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Sudan and Algeria as the five countries managed to bring two clubs into the round of the last 32. Siyabonga Nkosi scored the only goal of the game for Kaizer Chiefs in Botswana against Township Rollers, while the other South African club in the competition – Mamelodi Sundowns – had few problems in overcoming St. Michel United from the Seychelles, winning 3-0 for a 4-1 aggregate victory. Al-Hilal, 2-1 aggregate winners against KMKM from Zanzibar, joined Al-Merrikh from the Sudan, while Nigerian clubs Enyimba and Kano Pillars scored big wins. Enyimba, who won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004 won 1-0 in Benin against Buffles du Borgou for a 4-0 aggregate victory, while Kano Pillars went one better as they added a 3-0 victory against Al-Malakia to their 2-0 win from the first match.
Moghreb Tetouan turned around a 2-0 first leg loss in Mali against Club Olympique de Bamako to advance 3-2 on aggregate with Raja Casablanca, who were held 2-2 in Congo by Diables Noirs, but advanced 6-2 on aggregate, made it two out of two for Morocco. Cote d'Ivoire champions Sewe Sport were stunned 3-2 on aggregate by Guinean club AS Kaloum after being held to a 1-1 draw in the return leg. Zambia international Justin Zulu, meanwhile, was the hero for Zambian club ZESCO United at they beat Swaziland's Mbabane Swallows 1-0 for a 2-1 aggregate victory. The match between Liberian club Barrack Young Controllers and Real Banjul had to be postponed after Mali officials told Controllers that they would not be able to play in Bamako over Ebola fears.
Player of the week
Having been in the Super Eagles squad at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Gambo Muhammad is not an unknown entity for African football fans. Widely considered as one of the best strikers plying in the Nigerian league, the 26-year-old scored twice in Kano Pillars' 3-0 victory against South Sudan's Al-Malakia. Muhammad also scored once in the 2-0 first leg victory and now stands on three goals from two matches.
3 – The number of Algerian clubs alive in the competition. The holders ES Setif received a bye into the next round, while USM Alger, who won the Algerian league, beat Chad team Foullah Edifice. MC El Eulma, who took the place of suspended league runners-up JS Kabylie, won on the away-goals rule against Saint George.
What they said
“We knew playing away, with our past experience, how to apply ourselves in the hot conditions. I think going up to Casablanca it will be better conditions and it will be better quality," Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker, whose side won 1-0 in Botswana against Township Rollers to set up a first round match against Raja Casablanca.
Have your say
Will North American teams continue to dominate the competition as they have in the past ten seasons, with only TP Mazembe (2009 and 2010) managing to break the strangle-hold.