Leaders Zamalek were held to a draw yesterday in what could prove a major setback in their bid for glory in Egypt, as Coton Sport edged closer to yet another championship in Cameroon. Kenya’s league is almost at the halfway mark with a bevy of clubs still in the title hunt, while there are four teams tied at the summit in Zambia.
Egypt League: Zamalek hand Al Ahly the initiative
Leaders Zamalek opened the door for their arch-rivals Al Ahly to slip past them after being held to a goalless draw by the army club Al Gaish. Zamalek became the first side to reach 50 points this season but will see the result as a major blow in their bid to unseat Al Ahly after seven successive league titles.
Big game: Zamalek have been showing signs of strain in recent outings and were again lacking in enterprise as they battled against a well-organised defence. Abou Kone, Mahmoud Fathallah and the division's top scorer Shikabala all had chances for the hosts, but goalkeeper Emad Al Sayed was in no mood to do his former club any favours.
Headline-grabbers: Misr Elmagasah rarely enjoy a chance to hog the spotlight, but yesterday's 2-0 away win over Arab Contractors not only moved them up to fourth place but also extended their unbeaten run to 11 games. Both goals came from Ayman Kamal as the club look to a possible first-ever place in African club competition next season.
Cameroon Elite One: Another title beckons
Coton Sport’s bid for an eighth title in the last nine years continued apace, even after being held to a goalless draw at Sable de Batie. Second-placed Astres Douala lost further ground as they went down at Unisport Bafang, who are now just three points behind Astres. Coton Sport enjoy an eight-point lead with four rounds of the title race still to be decided.
Big game: The battle to avoid relegation dominated the weekend’s agenda. With AS Lausanne Yaounde already confirmed as relegated after failing to record a single win in 21 attempts, Caiman Douala will also go back down to Elite Two after a single season in the top flight after a 3-0 defeat at Scorpion de Bey.
Headline-grabbers: The Elite One title could now be decided next weekend if Coton Sport win and the trio of teams directly behind them fail to obtain the necessary results. Astres Douala, Union Douala and Unisport Bafang are all still in the hunt. Union have launched a late revival with four successive wins since the appointment of former national coach Jules Nyongha to their bench.
Zambia Super Division: A busy perch at the top
Four sides find themselves sharing the lead after wins for Nakambala Leopards, Red Arrows and Zanaco saw them all move up to 22 points, catching Power Dynamos, who drew with the defending champions Zesco United. Zanaco won away and are at the top of the standings by virtue of a better goal difference.
Big game: Power Dynamos went into the weekend’s programme as leaders but conceded their status in a goalless draw with Zesco at home in Kitwe. The champions played more than half the game down to 10 men, but they were rescued by goalkeeper Jacob Banda, who saved a second half penalty. Zesco are now six points behind the leaders but with four games in hand.
Headline-grabbers: Fabrice Mbimba’s goal lifted Zanaco to an away win in Lusaka over Green Buffaloes, while Red Arrows’ Dube Phiri notched his sixth goal of the season, but his first in six weeks, to see his side to a 1-0 win over Kabwe Warriors. Leopards had to wait until the 81st minute to secure their narrow win over Nchanga Rangers with Webster Mulenga netting the game’s only goal for a vital three points.
Kenya Premier League: Goal drought for top four
The top four sides were all involved in goalless draws at the weekend, reflecting the pressure at the summit as the season hit the halfway mark. Posta Rangers kept up their two point lead over Tusker and Ulinzi Stars with Kenya Commercial Bank a further two points back in fourth spot.
Big game: Tusker were fortunate to hold out against KCB after putting up a scrappy performance, but with a game in hand on the leaders they can still win the psychological battle to end the first half of the season on top. “We have to return quickly to the drawing board and ensure we win our next match to go into the break on top of the table,” said coach Sammy Omollo.
Headline-grabbers: Posta Rangers have been the surprise package of the season, and they had a chance to ensure top place at the halfway mark of the season but were held in Nairobi by Western Stima. Their failure to score was highlighted by the absence of the highly rated Kevin Ochieng, who is rumoured to be moving away in the mid-season transfer window, and some stunning saves from opposing goalkeeper David Juma.
Three catch-up matches at the weekend saw Entente Setif held at home and lose out on the possibility of launching a late assault for the Algerian title.
Champions Liga Muculmana have caught up with leaders Maxaquene in Mozambique’s MocamBola after Maxaquene lost in Beira while Liga Muculmana beat Vilankulo FC.
Fello Star Labe lost in Guinea’s Ligue 1 at the weekend but are still two points clear at the top of the standings.