Former African champions Asante Kotoko and FAR Rabat were among the teams who misfired at the weekend as they were held to draws in Ghana and Morocco respectively, while in Kenya things are set for a potentially thrilling finish to the title race.
Morocco Botola: Derby draw leaves Raja top
The capital city derby between FAR Rabat and FUS Rabat ended in a 2-2 draw and meant the soldiers missed out on a chance to go top of the standings. Instead Raja Casablanca remain top even though they did not play at the weekend and now have a game in hand. Raja, who have a 100 per cent record in the early stages of the new season, did not play a league game because they were involved in an Arab Cup tie.
Big game: National team coach Rachid Taoussi was back on club duty with FAR Rabat a week after engineering his country’s qualification for next year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations. But this time he was denied victory by a stoppage-time equaliser from Brahim Bahri despite the fact that FAR had twice gone ahead, including in the closing minutes.
Headline-grabbers: Abderrazak Hamdallah netted a hat trick as Olympique Safi beat Widad Fez 3-1 for their third win in five matches. It means Safi, who were runners-up last season, are third in the standings. The 22-year-old Hamdallah, who won a first cap for his country earlier this year, scored in the 24th, 44th and 66th minutes and is now the league’s leading marksman.
Ghana Premier League: Kotoko cannot find the magic
Champions Asante Kotoko romped to a runaway success in the title race last season but have been unable to keep up the momentum this term. They have drawn all three of their games since the new campaign kicked off, including two at home. Berekum Chelsea, who were champions in 2011, and Meadama are the early leaders with two wins and a draw each.
Big game: An added-time penalty for visitors Heart of Lions spoiled the debut of new Kotoko coach Dramani Mas-ud Didi. Kotoko had also scored from the spot, eight minutes from time, when Nafiu Idrissu was felled in the penalty area and Koffi Nti Boakye netted. But their first win of the season was postponed as Nana Egyir equalised in a dramatic finish.
Headline-grabbers: Derby success for Berekum Chelsea not only gave them local bragging rights but also top place in the standings. It was not until late in the game that Chelsea made sure of the three points with goals from Latif Salifu and Issaka Ibrahim. Berekum Arsenal had a chance to lead in the game but Ibrahim Dauda missed a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, which seemed to suck some confidence from their players.
Kenya Premier League: Three left in the race
Tusker, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia are the three sides left in the race for the title with three rounds remaining. All were weekend winners and there remains a three-point gap between leaders Tuskers and Leopards in third. Gor Mahia, seeking to restore former glory, are second, two points off the pace and meet Tusker in their next encounter.
Big game: There was a double-header at Nairobi’s City Stadium, with Gor Mahia the main attraction in the second game of the day. But a capacity crowd did not have much to cheer about, not until the 77th minute of the game against Karuturi Sports when Kevin Omondi was hacked down in the box. Uganda import Dan Sserunkuma stepped up to convert an important winner.
Headline-grabbers: Defender David Ochieng was the hero for Tusker as he rose to head home Patrick Kagogo’s corner eight minutes from time against Muhoroni Youth at Kasarani. The late winner ensured a fourth successive win for Brewers as they seek to retain the title they won last year.
Algeria: Harrach and Setif among the goals
USM El Harrach remain top as they won away at Widad Tlemcen for their fifth success in seven games. They are two points clear of defending champions Entente Setif, who were also weekend winners and leapfrogged CS Constantine. Setif won at Mouloudia Oran, who are the only side without a win after seven rounds of the new season.
Big game: Rachid Taouil gave Tlemcen the lead after just seven minutes but in-form El Harrach were level just four minutes later through Baghdad Bounedjah. The winner for the visitors came only seven minutes from time as Amine El Amali fired home.
Headline-grabbers: Champions Setif were one of only two sides who managed to score two goals at the weekend as they won in Oran. Akram Djahnit and French-born striker Karim Soltani scored on either side of the break. They are also one of only two clubs who have managed to reach double figures for their overall goal tally after seven games. Setif have 13 goals and CS Constantine, who played out a goalless draw, have 11.
If second-placed Zesco United beat third-placed Power Dynamos on Wednesday they will cut the lead of Zanaco to just two points in Zambia.
Maxaquene have a four-point lead in Mozambique with four rounds of the title chase left.
The planned start of the league in Egypt last Wednesday was postponed and a new kick-off date has yet to be determined.