Ghana’s Asante Kotoko and Orlando Pirates of South Africa, both former champions, tumbled out at the first stage of this year’s CAF African Champions League after suffering shock defeats on Sunday. The pair were the major victims in the first phase of annual competition where there was increasing evidence of the growing strength in depth of African club football.
Esperance of Tunisia, usually so proficient in past early stages, only won their tie with a goal in stoppage time of the second leg against East End Lions of Sierra Leone.
A goalless draw away against Gaborone United in the first leg was somewhat disappointing for Pirates, but coach Ruud Krol shrugged it off as he had fielded many reserve players. Going into Sunday’s second leg, the coach of the Botswana champions, Manfred Chabinga admitted it would be a massive task to keep Pirates at bay, and so it proved for the first 80 minutes of the match at the new FIFA World Cup™ stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Pirates went two goals up and squandered myriad other chances before conceding an own goal with five minutes to go when striker Katlego Mashego fluffed a clearance after a corner-kick and pushed the ball into his own net. Just two minutes later Stephen Maposa headed in a late equaliser to force a 2-2 draw and hand GU shock progress to the next round on the away goals rule.
Asante Kotoko were 2-0 down from the first leg of their tie against Senegalese outfit ASC Linguere, but the Ghanaian giants quickly set about eradicating the deficit with goals from Kabiru Imoro and goalkeeper Isaac Amoako, who converted a penalty, in the first half. But the home side failed to add any more in the second period or extra time, and Amoako and Ofosu Appiah missed their penalties in the post-match shootout as the Senegalese provincial club went on to win 4-2.
Raja Casablanca were unconvincing in drawing 1-1 with Guinea’s Fello Star Labe at home on Sunday, but they still advance thanks to a two-goal lead from the away leg a fortnight ago. This was also the case for South Africa’s other representatives SuperSport United, whose coach Gavin Hunt called his team’s performance “rubbish” after a limp 2-2 draw against Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.
We were always the better team. I think we could have had a victory margin of six or seven goals but failed to press home our advantage. It is one of things we need to work on in the next weeks.
Piling up goals
Both Al Ittihad of Libya and Angola’s Petro Atletico scored six goals at home in their weekend matches to march comfortably through, while four more goals for Mozambique side Ferroviario Maputo brought their first round tally up to nine.
Ahmed Zuwai and Pierre Koulibaly, the Burkina Faso international, scored twice each for Al Ittihad in Tripoli as they romped to a 6-0 win over AS Tempete Mocaf of the Central African Republic. Petro Atletico completed a 9-3 aggregate triumph over Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea by winning their second leg contest at Luanda’s Cidadela Stadium 6-1. Substitute Joka came off the bench to score a second-half hat trick as all but one of the goals came came after the interval.
Ferroviario of Mozambique won 4-1 at home over AC Mitsamiouli in Maputo to add to the 5-3 away triumph they achieved in the Comoros Islands a fortnight ago. “We were always the better team. I think we could have had a victory margin of six or seven goals but failed to press home our advantage. It is one of things we need to work on in the next weeks,” said Ferroviario coach Chiquinho Conde.
Zambia’s Zanaco scored four without reply in their home game against Uganda’s Revenue Authority in a performance that surprised even their own coach Wedson Nyirenda. “[This win] is a very big motivation for us because we had been finding it difficult to find the back of the net in our past two games," Nyirenda said.
The 24 victors from the first round join eight sides given byes into the second round, which will be played on the weekend of 19-21 March and 2-4 April. Defending champions TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo will take on APR FC, who scored an away triumph against Recreativo Libolo of Angola to book their place. After a 2-2 draw in the first leg, the Rwandans went away to win in Saturday’s return match at the Calulo Stadium with a goal from Ivorian-born Didier Sery Logba.
Egypt’s Al Ahly, who are almost always among the favourites for glory in the African club showpiece, play Gunners FC of Zimbabwe, one of many new faces in this year’s competition. Gunners eased past Mafunzo of Zanzibar, winning 4-0 in the second leg at home in Harare on Sunday to book a dream date with the record-holding Egyptians. Zimbabwe’s Footballer of the Year Ramson Zhuwawo scored twice at the Rufaro Stadium.
Last year’s runners-up Heartland FC of Nigeria also had a bye in the first round and watched from the sidelines as Tiko United of Cameroon won the right to play them, but only after winning on post-match penalties against Vital’O of Burundi.
In Rades: Esperance (Tunisia) 3 East End Lions (Sierra Leone) 2
First leg: 2-2; Esperance won 5-4 on aggregate
In Tunis: Club Africain (Tunisia) 1 Sahel SC (Niger) 0
First leg: 1-2; Club Africain won on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate draw
In El Jadida: Difaa El Jadida (Morocco) 3 OS Balantas Mansoa (Guinea Bissau) 0
First leg: 0-0; Difaa El Jadida won 3-0 on aggregate
In Ismaili: Ismaili (Egypt) 2 Sofapaka (Kenya) 0
First leg: 0-0; Ismaili won 2-0 on aggregate
In Khartoum: Al Merreikh (Sudan) 3 St Georges (Ethiopia) 1
First leg: 1-1; Al Merreikh won 4-2 on aggregate
In Libolo: Recreativo Libolo (Angola) 0 APR FC (Rwanda) 1
First leg: 2-2; APR FC won 3-2 on aggregate
In Lubumbashi: FC St Eloi Lupopo (DR Congo) 1 Young Africans (Tanzania) 0
First leg: 3-2; FC St Eloi Lupopo won 4-2 on aggregate
In Lusaka: Zanaco (Zambia) 4 Uganda Revenue Authority (Uganda) 0
First leg: 0-1; Zanaco won 4-1 on aggregate
In Maputo: Ferroviario Maputo (Mozambique) 4 AC Mitsamiouli (Comoros) 1
First leg: 5-3; Ferroviario Maputo won 9-4 on aggregate
In Pretoria: SuperSport United (South Africa) 2 Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland) 2
First leg: 3-1; SuperSport United won 5-3 on aggregate
In Setif: Entente Setif (Algeria) 2 Diables Noirs (Congo) 0
First leg: 2-3; Entente Setif won 4-3 on aggregate
In Tizi Ouzou: JS Kabylie (Algeria) 3 Armed Forces (Gambia) 0
First leg: 2-1; JS Kabylie won 5-1 on aggregate
In Tripoli: Al Ittihad (Libya) 6 AS Tempete Mocaf (Central African Republic) 0
First leg: 2-1; Al Ittihad won 8-1 on aggregate
In Yaounde: Tiko United (Cameroon) 2 Vital’O (Burundi) 2
First leg: 2-2; Tiko United won 5-3 on penalties after a 4-4 aggregate draw
In Antananarivo: Ajesaia (Madagascar) 1 US Tamponnaise (Reunion) 3
First leg: 1-2. US Tamponnaise won 5-2 on aggregate
In Benghazi: Al Ahli Benghazi (Libya) 0 Djoliba (Mali) 0
First leg: 0-1; Djoliba won 1-0 on aggregate
In Casablanca: Raja Casablanca (Morocco) 1 Fello Star Labe (Guinea) 1
First leg: 3-1; Raja Casablanca won 4-2 on aggregate
In Flacq: Curepipe Starlight (Mauritius) 3 La Passe (Seychelles) 1
First leg: 0-1; Curepipe Starlight won 3-2 on aggregate
In Harare: Gunners FC (Zimbabwe) 4 Mafunzo (Zanzibar) 0
First leg: 2-1; Gunners FC won 6-1 on aggregate
In Luanda: Petro Atletico (Angola) 6 Ela Nguema (Equatorial Guinea) 1
First leg: 3-2; Petro Atlteico won 9-3 on aggregate
In Port Elizabeth: Orlando Pirates (South Africa) 2 Gaborone United (Botswana) 2
First leg: 0-0; Gaborone United won on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate draw
In Kumasi: Asante Kotoko (Ghana) 2 ASC Linguere (Senegal) 0
First leg: 0-2; ASC Linguere won 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw
In Ouagadougou: ASFA Yennenga (Burkina Faso) 4 Stade Mandji (Gabon) 1
First leg: 2-0; ASFA Yennenga won 6-1 on aggregate
In Yenagoa: Bayelsa United (Nigeria) 2 Gazelle (Chad) 2
First leg: 0-1; Gazelle won 3-2 on aggregate
APR FC (Rwanda) v TP Mazembe Englebert (Congo DR, holders)
Djoliba (Mali) v ASC Linguere (Senegal)
Ismailia (Egypt) v Stade Tamponnaise (Reunion)
Africa Sports (Côte d'Ivoire) v Al Hilal (Sudan)
Raja Casablanca (Morocco) v Petro Atletico (Angola)
Club Africain (Tunisia) v JS Kabylie (Algeria)
Gazelle (Chad) v Al Merreikh (Sudan)
Esperance (Tunisia) v ASFA Yennenga (Burkina Faso)
Curepipe Starlight (Mauritius) v Gaborone United (Botswana)
FC St Eloi Lupopo (DR Congo) v Dynamos (Zimbabwe)
Gunners (Zimbabwe) v Al Ahli (Egypt)
Al Ittihad (Libya) v Difaa El Jadida (Morocco)
Zanaco (Zambia) v ASEC Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire)
Union Douala (Cameroon) v Entente Setif (Algeria)
Tiko United (Cameroon) v Heartland FC (Nigeria)
SuperSport United (South Africa) v Ferroviario Maputo (Mozambique)
Teams listed first host the first leg matches on the weekend of 19-21March. The return legs will be played on the weekend of 2-4 April.