The leagues in Egypt and Morocco are still in a formative stage, but the perennial challengers for honours look as if they are going to have it tougher than usual. And in Angola and Mozambique respectively, one point is all both Recreativo Libolo and Liga Muculmana need to secure the championship, while FC St Eloi Lupopo ensured African participation next season.
Egypt League: Taxing start for champs
The beginning of the new season has proven taxing for champions Al Ahly, whose usual storming start to the season has eluded them and suggested the campaign will be among the most open to date. El Gouna held the seven-times defending champions to a 1-1 draw just days after handing Ismaily a 4-1 thumping. El Gouna are now second behind Police Union, who have won their first two games of the season.
Big game: El Gouna came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Al Ahly, who looked strong in the first half but faded away after the interval. Emad Moteab scored the opener for Al Ahly, but the Ghana import Samuel Ocran equalised for the team from the Red Sea coast. Ocran’s 49th minute goal was set up by former Ahly midfielder Ahmed Adel.
Headline-grabbers: After the match, El Gouna coach Anwar Salama suggested Al Ahly will struggle this season because they have too many good players. “There will always be a question of who should play and the truth is that they should all play,” offered Salama after the draw in Cairo. The champions did not use their new big name signing Al Sayed Hamdy in the game almost as if to emphasise Salama’s point.
Congo DR Super League: Lupopo win African place
FC St Eloi Lupopo won a place for themselves in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup after an away draw in Kinshasa at the weekend. With TP Mazembe and AS V Club finishing in the top two places earlier this month and securing CAF Champions League berths for 2012, Lupopo finished third after their 1-1 draw at Daring Club Motema Pembe.
Big game: Lupopo got off to the perfect start away at the Stade Martyrs with an 18th-minute goal from Dalgo Tamundele before international Gladys Bokese equalised midway through the second half for DCMP. Lupopo also had Tagi Agati sent off soon after but held out for a 1-1 draw and a place in continental club competition on the basis of their head-to-head record against DCMP, who tied with them on 19 points in the final standings.
Headline-grabbers: Defending champions AS V Club continued to hog the headlines after a controversial finish to the league that saw them end one point behind TP Mazembe Englebert. The Kinshasa club are unhappy about refereeing appointments and decisions they feel cost them in the title race.
Morocco Botola: Wydad’s form continues
Wydad Casablanca continued the celebration of their CAF Champions League final place by keeping up their 100 per-cent record in the league. A 1-0 win over MA Tetouan means they lead after four matches with 12 points, one more than surprise package CR Al Hoceima, who have played one more match.
Big game: Wydad are still on a high from success over Enyimba of Nigeria in the Champions League semi-final and found rousing support in their game against Tetouan. But it took over an hour for them to get the game’s only goal from Olympic international Yassine Lakhal against his former club.
Headline-grabbers: Raja Casablanca’s winless run continued as they played to their third goalless draw. It has proven a tough start for new coach Bertrand Marchand brought in after Raja flopped in the Champions League’s group stage. Raja have four points from their first five matches and have scored just one goal.
Angola Girabola: On the brink of glory
Recreativo Libolo were hoping to make sure of the title at the weekend but lost, leaving them just one point to get in the final round of the season. Libolo had a four point lead but a 2-1 defeat at Progresso Sambizanga left them vulnerable and lucky that chasing Kabuscorp only managed a draw. However, with a goal difference advantage, Libolo are still expected to take a first-ever title at home against relegation-threatened FC Cabinda on 6 November.
Big game: Luanda’s mythical but crumbling Cidadela Stadium was as a good a place as any for Libolo to secure the title but they ran into a feisty Progresso side, who needed a win to steer themselves clear of the relegation zone. Luis scored for a 1-0 interval lead and an own goal from Edy after the hour mark put the game beyond Libolo, whose consolation came four minutes into stoppage time from Adawa.
Headline-grabbers: A goal from Mabululu also in stoppage time ensured a 2-2 draw for Petro Atletico against Kabuscorp and virtually ended any hopes for the second-placed side in the GiraBola race. Petro needed to win to go second and keep alive hope of a place in next year’s CAF Champions Leagu,e but Kabuscorp were top from the start with goals from Fiston and Abel. Love scored his 20th goal of the season for Petro and Mabululu’s strike effectively handed Libolo the title.
A win for Liga Muculmana in Mozambique means they now need just a single point from their last three games to retain the Mocambola title. CR Belouizdad have taken the lead in Algeria’s Ligue 1 from USM Alger by a single goal after six rounds of the championships. Kenyan leaders Tusker FC were beaten by defending champions Sofapaka but still have a two point lead over Ulinzi Stars.