Carlos Mozer could not have been further from Uruguay's legendary Centenario stadium as he watched his Angolan club team win in the opening salvoes of the CAF Champions League in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.
Some 27 years ago, a youthful Mozer was a member of the Flamengo team that won a dramatic play-off match in Montevideo to secure victory in South America's Copa Libertadores, beating Cobreloa of Chile 2-0. Now 47, the former centre-half, who won 36 caps and represented Brazil at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™, is to be found at the helm of Angola's InterClube, a team he steered to a first-ever domestic championship late last year.
The Luanda-based police team made their debut in the Champions League on Sunday in Malabo, beating hosts Renacimento 2-1 in the first leg of their first round tie. Mozer might not yet be thinking of a unique double of continental titles, but he was delighted with a winning rat to a potentially long campaign. "It was an important win to secure passage to the next phase. Both team played a good game but we were better than our adversary," Mozer said afterwards, adding his satisfaction at ending Renacimento's record of not having lost at home for the last two years.
"Our objective now is just to continue with our work and to get into the next round," added the Brazilian, who saw striker Paulo Henriques open the scoring after just 30 minutes.
Angola's other representative in the CAF Champions League also won 2-1 away, with Primeiro Agosto coming from a goal down at half-time to beat Stade Malien in Bamako. Ze Augusto and Bena scored the goals that further raised the profile of Angolan football on the back of their national team's quarter-final finish at the recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana.
Tribute to Tchingoma
Elsewhere, Gabon's FC105 Libreville showed admirable mental fortitude as they secured a surprisingly one-sided 3-0 win over former winners Hearts of Oak of Ghana.
Poignantly, the match came just seven days after the death of defender Guy Tchingoma in a match in the Gabon league and his team-mates paid him the perfect tribute against a team who won this very tournament in 2000. Hearts, who have just appointed a new Israeli coach but traveled without him for the game, were beaten by goals from Lenga Basto, Cedric Mintsa and a penalty 15 minutes from time from Juste Freddy Atomo.
The post-Cup of Nations hangover for Ghana continued in nearby Niger, where the country's other Champions League representative AshantiGold lost 1-0 to hosts Sahel SC in Niamey.
As for Senegal, whose national team suffered an early exit in
Ghana, they suffered another setback in continental competition as
both their clubs produced disappointing results. AS Douanes were
held in Dakar on Saturday by CF Ouagadougou of Burkina Faso while
ASC Saloum lost 2-1 to Tunisia's Club Africain, for whom
substitute Oussema Sellami scored the winner three minutes from the
The biggest margin of victory of the weekend came for Algeria's Entente Setif, who were 5-1 winners at ASC SNIM in Mauritania, while Enyimba, winners in 2003 and 2004, started their bid for a third title with a 4-1 win over Diables Noirs of Congo with Stephen Worgu and Eze Oturogu each scoring twice However, Nigeria's other side in the first round draw, Gombe United, lost 2-0 in Kinshasa to Daring Club Motema Pembe of Congo DR.
Finally, Zambia's ZESCO United won 2-0 away in Kampala, beating Uganda Revenue Authority to set up a seemingly routine return match. Goals on either side of the interval from Elson Mkhandawire and Nicholas Zulu ensured the win for the Champions League rookies and left the tax collectors facing a massive uphill struggle in the return leg.