Tunisian and Egyptian football returned to the fray after a long break and will be hoping to recover some momentum in the coming weeks. South Africa’s championship is in its final and thrilling stretch, with no indication where the championship will go, but in Algeria it seems a new name will be added to the list of title holders.
Tunisia Ligue 1: From the streets to the pitch
Four months and one government later, Tunisia’s top teams returned at the weekend to resume their championship. The ‘jasmine revolution’ brought an abrupt halt to Ligue 1 at the start of the year, and clubs are now left to scurry to the finish line. Change might also now be on the cards in the league with the usually dominant Etoile Sahel suffering a surprise home defeat, although perennial rivals Esperance won.
Big game: It was expected Esperance’s home match with CA Bizertin would reignite football fervour after the long break, but the crowd size was disappointing and the first half dull until Walid Hichri scored just before the interval. Youssef Msakni and former Mali international Dramane Traore added two more goals in the last 12 minutes to put Esperance four points clear atop the standings.
Headline-grabbers: Eric Asamoah Frimpong, better known as Karikari, is on loan from Etoile Sahel to CS Hammam Lif and made a harsh point to his employers by scoring the only goal in Sousse as the coast club registered a sixth win of the season and moved up to fourth place. The 53rd-minute strike handed Etoile a rare home defeat and although they stay second, it means they lose ground on the leaders.
South Africa Premiership: Finish line in sight
Just a single goal now separates Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town in the title race, while Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns also still harbour silverware hopes. Three rounds are left after a weekend which started with Ajax winning at home and finished with Pirates securing valuable away points.
Big game: Pirates coach Ruud Krol had spoken before the game of the plucky opposition he expected from Platinum Stars, even though they have had a disappointing season. But Pirates got off to the best possible start with Zambian international Isaac Chansa scoring after seven minutes, but then conceded almost straight away. They needed a wonder goal from fullback Happy Jele to win the game in the second half.
Headline-grabbers: Thulani Serero scored another superb goal for Ajax Cape Town, this time dribbling past two defenders and thrashing home with his left foot as the aspirant champions beat Lamontville Golden Arrows 3-1 at home. The goal came 24 hours before Serero jetted out for trials at Ajax Amsterdam in the Netherlands ahead of his own club’s next fixture at the end of the month.
Algeria Premier Division: Running on ahead
Although they have played two matches more than their nearest rivals, ASO Chlef’s five-match winning streak in the national league sees them now 13 points clear at the top of the standings. They won 4-2 away at MC El Eulma two days after second-placed ES Setif had been beaten and are now well on course for their first-ever championship.
Big game: Three goals in the first 25 minutes effectively saw ASO Chlef set up their win on the road at MC El Eulma, prompting defender Samir Zazou to suggest, “this victory shows that our top place is hardly a coincidence.” Zazou has won previous titles with CR Belouizdad and JS Kabylie and is experienced enough to know when he is in a medal-winning position. “The ambiance in the squad is such that we have allowed no distractions in our quest to win the title,” he said.
Headline-grabbers: Laid Madouni scored a rare hat-trick as mid-table MC Saida beat WA Tlemcen 5-2 at home doubling his tally of goals for the season. The last of his three goals came in the 75th minute, which saw away supporters surge for the exit. But when Tlemcen scored two late goals, the home side’s coach Toufik Rouabah displayed his discontent by departing for changing room before the final whistle.
Senegal National Championship: Heading to halfway line
With the national team hogging the headlines in the wake of their recent win over Cameroon, the league has hardly had any attention on its march to the halfway point of the season. Ouakam have taken over from Casa Sports at the top, and they now lead by three points after beating third-placed Niary Tally.
Big game: Glamour club Jeanne d’Arc's mysterious crisis continued as they fell 3-0 to Dakar Universite Club and remained tied to the bottom of the table. Previous leaders Casa Sport conceded two goals in the last five minutes to lose to Dahra, who won for only the second time this season.
Headline-grabbers: The Dakar derby between Ouakam and Niary Tally pulled in a handsome crowd but they were kept waiting until the 92nd-minute for a goal, with Baye Oumar Niasse converting Ngagne Diallo’s free kick for an USO winner.
Egypt’s premier league resumed in midweek but there was also one game at the weekend as Al Ahly scored late to beat Al Gaish for a 1-0 win.
Raja Casablanca’s 2-1 home win over FAR Rabat ensured a three point lead at the top of Morocco’s Botola.
Coton Sport beat Caiman Douala 2-0 at home to take a seven point lead in Cameroon’s Elite One.