Orlando Pirates fought from behind to maintain their lead in South Africa and their hopes of retaining their championship with one round left to play. At the other end of the continent, USM Alger blew a chance of going top in the final Algerian run-in, while leaders Kano Pillars lost in Nigeria.
South Africa Premier League: Pirates set to plunder again
Orlando Pirates kept up their two-point lead over Moroka Swallows after the penultimate round of matches and will retain their title if they win again this weekend. Both clubs registered 2-1 victories with Pirates beating Bloemfontein Celtic and Swallows overcoming Platinum Stars. The hopes of four other clubs all fell by the wayside even though Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United were also weekend winners.
Big game: Pirates could have been crowned champions if they had won at home to Celtic and other results had gone their way, but for a good hour they looked to have blown their chances after Celtic went ahead in the second minute. But Pirates bounced back with two goals in five minutes to win with Thulasizwe Mbuyane equalising for the champions in the 70th minute and centre back Siyabonga Sangweni scoring the winner shortly after.
Headline-grabbers: It is almost sure that Siyabonga Nomvete will be recalled to the Bafana Bafana squad when the selection for the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers is named on Thursday. The 34-year-old got among the goals again for Swallows as they beat Stars, scoring both in the opening 20 minutes to take his tally for the season to 20. He is also the hot favourite to be named the league’s Player of the Season.
Algeria Ligue 1: Upset at the top, clarity at the bottom
There were just two games played in Ligue 1 at the weekend, but both were of significance at either end of the table. USM Alger lost out on a chance to go two points clear, suffering a 4-3 loss at home to JSM Bejaia despite being awarded three penalties, and NA Hussein Dey were relegated after losing 3-1 to JS Kabylie. Tuesday’s penultimate round of matches could provide the identity of this year’s champion,
Big game: JSM Bejaia are still in with a chance of a first-ever title after Amine Megateli’s 87th-minute effort gave them a thrilling late victory at USMA. Bejaia were 2-0 up after 20 minutes, but Noureddine Daham converted two penalties to equalise before Ahmed Gasmi made it 3-2 to the visitors at the break. Daham then completed his hat-trick from the spot to level just after the hour mark before Megateli’s dramatic headed winner.
Headline-grabbers: It has been an unconvincing season for former African champions JS Kabylie, who sit in the bottom half of the standings, but even worse for NA Hussein Dey, champions in 1967. With defeat, NAHD stayed on 22 points and can now no longer extricate themselves from the drop zone. At the sane time JSK, thanks to goals from Nabil Hemani, Salim Hanifi and Hamza Boulemdais, are clear of any danger.
Nigeria Premier League 1: Chances squandered
Both Enyimba and Dolphin, champions in recent years, had a chance to cut into the lead of Enugu Rangers at the weekend, but they fell short after being held to goalless draws. Rangers lost 2-0 at Kano Pillars but still lead Enyimba by three points. Pillars are now second ahead of former African champions Enyimba on goal difference while fourth-placed Dolphin are one point further back.
Big game: Pillars turned around their recent form and completed a solid seven days in the thick of the title race after first drawing away in Aba against Enyimba in midweek and then beating the leaders at home. Enyimba were held at Ocean Boys while champions Dolphin were held at home by Shooting Stars.
Headline-grabbers: Sharks FC are on the march up the standings, and after a goal blitz against Gombe FC, are now in seventh place. Sharks have now won six of their last seven league games, the latest triumph with a 5-2 scoreline. They were ahead after just two minutes through Ousmane Sane and 4-0 clear by the half-hour mark as veteran former international Victor Ezeji scored twice in the win.
Tunisia Ligue 1: Victory for boys at the bottom
Weekend winners all came from the lower reaches of Ligue 1 table while the two sides at the top - Esperance and CA Bizertin - did not play because of the African club competition, but third-placed Marsa and CS Sfaxien in fourth lost.
Big game: AS Marsa could have gone second had they won at struggling Hammam-Sousse, but they were two down by half-time and even after Ivorian import Didier Libere pulled a goal back in the second half, it proved a disappointing setback in the bid to catch up to Esperance. Marsa are eight points off the pace after only their second defeat in 18 games.
Headline-grabbers: It was a precious win for Hammam-Lif as the 2-1 triumph over Olympique Beja took them out of the relegation zone with the winner coming from Iheb Boussifi just six minutes from time. Newcomers Beni Khelled won for a fourth time this season as they beat EGS Gafsa in convincing fashion by a 3-0 scoreline.
Botswana’s title could be decided on Wednesday if Centre Chiefs win away at relegation-threatened Notwane. Lesotho Correction Services have retained their league title, finishing six points ahead of Lesotho Defence Force. Sofapaka have gone top in Kenya for the first time this season after a 2-0 away win over Muhoroni Youth.