Hopes of a few fairy tale stories from the first weekend of the 2011 CAF Champions League campaign were flooded away in a deluge of goals as several of this year’s potential winning candidates flexed their muscles early.
The most striking result was posted by Raja Casablanca, whose 10-1 win over Tourbillon of Chad was a one-sided thrashing which threatened at times to rewrite the record books. Another former African champion, ASEC Abidjan, tallied a 7-0 win, while Zamalek of Egypt scored four goals without reply away in Kenya.
Wydad Casablanca also handed a heavy defeat to Ghana’s champions Aduana Stars on their Champions League debut while Nigeria’s Enyimba won away from home. There were scares for Club Africain of Tunisia and Algeria’s Mouloudia Alger, who are also past winners of the continent’s top club trophy, but they both managed away draws and are well-placed to progress to the second round when they host the second leg of their respective ties in a fortnight’s time.
The news was better for minnows from Gambia, Swaziland and particularly Madagascar, and there will be a sense of satisfaction at the start made by their unfancied representatives to this year’s campaign.
Raja were headed in front after nine minutes through Abdessamad Ouhaki and scored four more before the half-hour mark. It was 6-0 at the interval. Hassan Tair scored a hat trick and six other players got in on the scoring act, including Bouchaib El Moubarki who was a CAF Champions League winner with Raja the last time they lifted the trophy in 1999.
ASEC were quicker off the mark in their home game against ASC SNIM of Mauritania at the Stade Robert Champroux de Marcory in Abidjan where Robert Sankara found the net after just three minutes. Adama Bakayoko claimed a hat trick in the rout and ASEC even had an early penalty stopped by the opposing goalkeeper.
We were surprised by the Gambian team, they were aggressive and they played well with the ball.
Raja’s compatriots, Wydad, had two goals from Mohcine Yajour to celebrate as the Moroccans showed Ghanaian newcomers Aduana Stars the vagaries of competing at the highest level with a 3-0 win. Zamalek, celebrating their centenary this year, scored four goals in the last half-hour against Ulinzi in Nairobi. Their hosts collapsed after conceding a penalty in the 61st minute that Mahmoud Fathallah converted to open the scoring.
Swaziland’s Young Buffaloes showed none of the usual nervousness of debutants, winning 3-0 against St Michel United of the Seychelles with goals from Vusi Thumbatha, Ndoda Mthethwa and veteran Sibusiso Dlamini. Another surprise was handed out by Madagascar’s Cnaps Sport, who won away at Motor Action in Zimbabwe in Harare, netting the only goal two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game when Yvan Rajoarinanana waltzed past four defenders to stun the crowd at the Rufaro Stadium.
The recent woes of Senegal’s Diaraf Dakar continued as they took their poor league form of late into their home meeting with neighbours Gambia Port Authority and were held to a 1-1 draw, setting up a difficult game in the return in Banjul a fortnight from now.
“We were surprised by the Gambian team, they were aggressive and they played well with the ball,” said Diaraf’s recently recalled coach Lamine Dieng.
Nine teams have byes directly into the next round, including holders TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo and record winners Al Ahly of Egypt. InterClube of Angola also booked their place in the next head-to-head round after Botswana’s Township Rollers withdrew from the competition before the first leg.
First round, first leg results
ASFAN (Niger) 0-0 Jeunesse Club (Côte d’Ivoire)
Saint Michel Ouenze (Congo) 0-1 Enyimba (Nigeria)
US Bitam (Gabon) 0-0 Astres Douala (Cameroon)
Real Bangui (Central African Republic) 1-1 Mouloudia Alger (Algeria)
East End Lions (Sierra Leone) 0-2 Djoliba (Mali)
Diaraf Dakar (Senegal) 1-1 Gambia Ports Authority (Gambia)
ASPAC FC (Benin) 1-0 Deportivo Mongomo (Equatorial Guinea)
ASEC Mimosas Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) 7-0 ASC SNIM (Mauritania)
Motor Action (Zimbabwe) 0-1 Cnaps Sport (Madagascar)
Raja Casablanca (Morocco) 10-1 Tourbillon (Chad)
Ulinzi (Kenya) 0-4 Zamalek (Egypt)
APR FC (Rwanda) 2-2 Club Africain (Tunisia)
Recreativo Caala (Angola) 2-0 Saint George (Ethiopia)
Mitsoudje (Comoros Islands) 0-0 Simba SC (Tanzania)
Mighty Barolle (Liberia) 0-2 Kano Pillars (Nigeria)
Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) 3-0 Aduana Stars (Ghana)
Fello Stars Labe (Guinea) 1-1 ASFA Yennega (Burkina Faso)
Vital’O (Burundi) 2-2 Coton Sport (Cameroon)
Ocean View (Zanzibar) 1-1 AS Vita Club (DR Congo)
SuperSport United (South Africa) 2-0 Matlama (Lesotho)
Young Buffaloes (Swaziland) 3-0 St Michel United (Seychelles)
Zesco United (Zambia) 3-0 Liga Muculmana (Mozambique)
The return legs are on the weekend of 11-13 February.