Three former African champions began their CAF Champions League campaigns with shock reversals in the first leg of the first round of action
The most surprising came courtesy of Senegal’s debutantes ASC Linguere, who scored two goals in a 10-minute spell early in the second half to claim a 2-0 aggregate lead over powerful two-time continental champions Asante Kotoko of Ghana. The Senegalese from the coastal town of Saint-Louis had been forced to take their game to the capital Dakar, but even without the majority of their supporters, they still used 'home' advantage to good effect before heading into the return match in Kumasi.
Sergine Samba Diouck opened the scoring in the 50th minute, and with the ‘Porcupine Warriors’ on the back foot, Ahmed Diallo doubled the lead on the hour mark. “There is great satisfaction that we’ve won the first leg,” said Linguere coach Ibrahim Diop. “Now we head to Ghana to look to qualify for the next round.”
There was also defeat for two other past champions, Algeria’s Entente Setif and Tunisia’s Club Africain, but the other early favourites look to have made handsome starts. That includes Raja Casablanca of Morocco and Algeria’s JS Kabylie, who both won away in the first leg matches and can look forward in some comfort to their return encounters, which will happen with the rest of the second legs over the weekend of 26-28 February.
Late away goals
Setif, who lost in the final of last year’s African Confederation Cup on penalties to Malian club Stade Malien, looked set for a surprising thumping in Brazzaville as Diables Noirs of the Congo went three goals up inside the first quarter of an hour. Fabrice Guessi Ondama scored in the third minute and Noelly added two more in the 11th and 13th minutes. But the experienced Algerians pulled a goal back through Lamouri Djediat in the 18th minute, and they continued to push until grabbing another important away goal nine minutes from the end from former international Lazhar Hadj Aissa.
Club Africain of Tunisia lost 2-1 at Sahel SC of Niger in Niamey, but they are counting themselves grateful after scoring a potentially vital away goal in the last minute through Mohamed Traore, who is originally from Mali.
Tunisia’s other representative in the Champions League field, Esperance had hopes for a comfortable start against East End Lions of Sierra Leone, a country that infrequently enters teams in continental club competition. But it proved a tricky tie with four goals in the first half split between the two teams. Khaled Ayari and Skander Souayeh scored just before halftime for Esperance to cancel out Issa Kamara and captain Mohamed Kabia’s earlier goals in Freetown.
In Conakry, Guinea, Raja Casablanca won 3-1 away at Fello Star de Labe with two goals coming from their imports Cire Pape Dia of Senegal and Ngom Djime of Cameroon. JS Kabylie could afford the luxury of an own goal from youthful defender Said Belkalem as they won 2-1 away at Armed Forces of Gambia at Banjul’s Independence Stadium.
First round, first leg results
In Kampala: Uganda Revenue Authority (Uganda) 1 Zanaco (Zambia) 0
In Mitsamioli: AC Mitsamiouli (Comoros) 3 Ferroviario Maputo (Mozambique) 5
In Banjul: Armed Forces (Gambia) 1 JS Kabylie (Algeria) 2
In Bissau: OS Balantas (Guinea Bissau) 0 DH Jadida (Morocco) 0
In Dakar: ASC Linguere (Senegal) 2 Asante Kotoko (Ghana) 0
In Dar-es-Salaam: Young Africans (Tanzania) 2 FC St Eloi Lupopo (DR Congo) 3
In Freetown: East End Lions (Sierra Leone) 2 Esperance (Tunisia) 2
In Gaborone: Gaborone United (Botswana) 0 Orlando Pirates (South Africa) 0
In Nairobi: Sofapaka (Kenya) 0 Ismaili (Egypt) 0
In Tampon: US Tamponnaise (Reunion) 2 Ajesaia (Madagascar) 1
In Victoria: La Passe (Seychelles) 1 Curepipe Starlight (Mauritius) 0
In Addis Ababa: St Georges (Ethiopia) 1 Al Merreikh (Sudan) 1
In Bamako: Djoliba (Mali) 1 Al Ahli Benghazi (Libya) 0
In Bangui: AS Tempete Mocaf (Central African Republic) 1 Al Ittihad
In Brazzaville: Diables Noirs (Congo) 3 Entente Setif (Algeria) 2
In Bujumbura: Vital’O (Burundi) 2 Tiko United (Cameroon) 2
In Conakry: Fello Star Labe (Guinea) 1 Raja Casablanca (Morocco) 3
In Dar-es-Salaam: Mafunzo (Zanzibar) 1 Gunners FC (Zimbabwe) 2
In Kigali: APR FC (Rwanda) 2 Recreativo Libolo (Angola) 2
In Libreville: Stade Mandji (Gabon) 0 ASFA Yennenga (Burkina Faso) 2
In Malabo: Ela Nguema (Equatorial Guinea) 2 Petro Atletico (Angola) 3
In Ndjamena: Gazelle (Chad) 1 Bayelsa United (Nigeria) 0
In Niamey: Sahel SC (Niger) 2 Club Africain (Tunisia) 1
In Somhlolo: Mbabane Swallows 1 SuperSport United (South Africa) 3