Recreativo Libolo are looking good value in their search for another Angolan title, while AFC Leopards are making heavy work of their bid in Kenya. A three-way tie involving a trio of unfashionable clubs marks the early battle of the new South African season, and Algeria’s Ligue 1 campaign got underway with several surprising results.
South Africa Premier League: Winning start for new coach
Champions Orlando Pirates changed coaches just three matches into the new league season and it paid immediate dividends at the weekend with a 1-0 away win over Platinum Stars. However, for highly fancied Mamelodi Sundowns, a horror start to the season continues after a last-gasp loss at Lamontville Golden Arrows, adding to the already considerable pressure on coach Johan Neeskens. Newly promoted Pretoria University are one of three sides in the early lead.
Big game: Pirates appointed Roger de Sa on Monday as their new coach, taking over from Peruvian Augusto Palacios on the back of two successive 3-0 defeats. De Sa made several changes for the game at Stars but it was a fortunate handball and penalty some 20 minutes from time that ensured the Buccaneers’ success with the only goal of the game,
Headline-grabbers: Top flight newcomers Pretoria University have made an unbeaten start to the new season, and have already notched up two away wins. Their 3-2 success at Moroka Swallows, runners-up last season, came courtesy of two goals from Senegalese Mame Niang. The tall striker looped in two headers to match in one game his entire goal haul from last season.
Algeria Ligue 1: Little happiness at home
The new season kicked off with little for supporters to celebrate as just one club managed success in front of their own fans. USM El Harrach’s 1-0 win over JS Kabylie was the only home success, while Chabab Belouizdad, Mouloudia Alger and last season’s runners-up JSM Bejaia all secured away wins. The other three games were drawn, including Entente Setif’s first match in the defence of their title.
Big game: Setif looked to be off to a winning start when they took the lead away at MC El Eulma, but the home side equalised five minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game after a series of defensive blunders. “We were feeble at the end of game and made too many mistakes,” acknowledged Setif veteran Farouk Belkaid.
Headline-grabbers: An opening day hat-trick from Mustapha Djallit gave Mouloudia Alger a 3-0 win at Widad Tlemcen, with the goals coming in a 12-minute burst before half-time. It was a bittersweet achievement for the forward, who began his professional career at Tlemcen.
Angola GiraBola: The march gathers pace
Recreativo Libolo’s march to a second successive title continued apace and their 3-0 win over FC Maquis Onze Bravos puts the club within touching distance. They have 58 points, nine more than second placed Primeiro Agosto with six rounds of the season left. Primeiro won 2-1 away at relegation-haunted Sporting Cabinda while Kabuscorp are third despite a draw with AS Aviacao.
Big game: Primeiro Agosto had to come from behind to extend to eight games their current unbeaten streak and stay in the title race. Struggling Sporting remain second bottom after going down 2-1. Defender Simao put the home side into the lead but it lasted for just eight minutes. Amaro equalised and then got the winner in the second half. Sporting have not won in their last nine league outings.
Headline-grabbers: Another clean sheet ensured Libolo’s unbeaten league run continued through their 24th game of the season. They have conceded just eight times and have not given up a single goal in their last three games. In a total of 30 games this year, Libolo have lost just once, away to Nigeria’s Sunshine Stars in the CAF Champions League. Their most recent loss in the GiraBola was to Progresso Sambizanga in October last year.
Kenya Premier League: A slip in a tight race
AFC Leopards let slip a good opportunity for a substantive lead as they lost 2-1 at Western Stima, although they still lead long-standings rivals Gor Mahia by two points with six games left to play. In one of the tightest races in years, there are another three clubs within five points of Leopards, including defending champions Tusker.
Big game: Wesley Kemboi had Western Stima 2-0 up at half-time, inflicting a double blow from which Leopards failed to recover. With one win in their last five league games, the leaders are stumbling towards the finishing line.
Headline-grabbers: Sofapaka appointed Englishman Stewart Hall as their new coach at the start of the week but his debut was a 1-0 loss to Ulinzi Stars at Nakuru. Wycliffe Onyango scored the only goal with just 24 minutes gone. Both clubs still have a chance of title success with Sofapaka fifth in the standings, five points behind the leaders. Stars are sixth, eight points in arrears.
Union Douala have now won ten matches in a row after their weekend derby victory over Astres Douala, leaving them with a ten-point lead in Cameroon.
Tunisia’s Ligue 1 continues on Wednesday with Esperance and CA Bizertin level on 60 points with four games each to play.
V Club won away at Virunga to go five points clear in Congo DR.