North African domination of the CAF Champions League appears to be continuing unabated as nine clubs from the region went into the first round of qualifying and all of them managed to advance to the round of the last 16, with an astonishing weekend record of seven wins, one draw and one defeat – and even Moghreb Tetouan's 2-1 defeat at Kano Pillars made no difference as they had won the first leg 4-0.
The clubs will go through one more round of home-and-away ties to narrow the field to eight, which will then be split into two groups on the way to November's two-legged final.
Game of the week
Smouha 2-0 Enyimba
After finishing a best-ever second in the Egyptian Premier League last term, Alexandria-based Smouha have extended their participation in the competition after overturning a 1-0 defeat from their first leg in Aba against Enyimba. Blue Wave goalkeeper Femi Thomas was outstanding for his side as the Nigerian team came close to holding the home side to the draw they needed, but Hani Al Egeizi finally broke the deadline with a converted penalty in the 81st minute. Enyimba, who won the competition in 2003 and 2004 had midfielder Kingsley Sokari sent off for a second bookable offence in the second half. Smouha then made the most best of their numerical advantage as Hermann Kouao found a winner in the last minute of the game to send the Egyptians through.
Sanga Balende 2-0 Coton Sport
The last time Sanga Balende competed in the showpiece event of African club football, they walked off the pitch in the 55th minute of their first round qualifier in Libreville against FC 105 in protest against the officiating. Fans of the DR Congo club had to wait a further 31 years to see their team in action again. They beat Angolan club Recreativo do Libolo in the preliminary round before coming up against Cameroon's Coton Sport, who were finalists in 2008 and made the round of the last four in 2013. After playing to a goalless draw in the first leg, goals by Kabamba Mukundji and Badibake Mpongo gave the Blood and Gold a place in the final round of qualifying.
Algerian clubs ES Setif and USM Alger were the first North African clubs to advance. The title holders Setif went through after Toufik Zerara and Farid Mellouli scored the goals to give them a 2-0 win against Real Banjul, while USM drew 1-1 in Pikine, but qualified 6-2 on aggregate. The third Algerian club involved in the competition, MC El Eulma, stunned Asante Kotoko 2-1 in Ghana after being held to a goalless draw in the first leg. The visitors had to come from behind after Obed Owusu gave Kotoko a first half lead. Tunisia's CS Sfaxien won 1-0 against Togolese club AC Semassi for a resounding 6-0 aggregate victory, while Esperance made it two out of two for Tunisia with a 3-1 win against Cameroon's Cosmos Bafia.
South Africa's interest in the competition ended over the weekend as both clubs were knocked out. Sundowns FC, who won their first leg against former champions TP Mazembe 1-0, were beaten 3-1 in Lubumbashi and crashed out 3-2 on aggregate. Rainford Kalaba, Mbwana Samatta and Roger Assale scored for Les Corbeaux, while Percy Tau pulled one back late in the game for the South African club. Nigerian striker Christian Osaguona scored two late goals for Raj Casablanca in their game to ensure a 2-0 victory against the other South African club Kaizer Chiefs to add to their 1-0 win from the first leg.
Player of the week
That Mouhssine Iajour can score goals was well-known even before the Champions League started. The Moroccan international scored three for his country at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005 when the North Africans finished fourth and was joint top-scorer at the FIFA Club World Cup two years ago, where Raja Casablanca sensationally went all the way to the final. On Saturday the striker scored his fifth goal of this Champions League campaign to deny Nigerian champions Kano Pillars any chance of staging a stunning come-back. Even though Moghreb Tetouan lost 2-1, the 4-0 victory in the first leg – in which Iajour scored a hat-trick, gave the Moroccan club a comfortable 5-2 aggregate victory.
15 – The number of appearances Cairo giants Al Ahly have made in the second round of the tournament in the last 16 years. The last time the eight-time champions, and 4-0 aggregate winners over APR of Rwanda, were knocked out that early after qualifying for the event was in 1998, when Ethiopian club Coffee FC won on the away-goal rule after drawing 2-2 in Cairo.
What they said
“We did everything to get through, but they got the goal they needed. Now we have go concentrate fully on the Angolan championship, which we want to win,” Kabuscorp coach Ljubomir Ristovski, whose side beat Al Merrikh 2-1, but went out 3-2 on aggregate.
Have your say
Can 1965 finalists Stade Malien finally break their and advance to the group phase of the Champions League for the first time in their history?