FUS Rabat remain the surprise package in Morocco’s Botola, but there is nothing new about the title chase in Ghana where arch foes Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak are at it again. Elsewhere the leaders in Swaziland and Egypt kept clear of the chasing pack with very different victories.
Ghana Premier League: Rivals neck and neck
Hearts of Oak have caught up with their perennial rivals Asante Kotoko at the top of the league on 25 points after squeezing out a 3-2 win over AshantiGold. Kotoko were held to a surprise home draw by Aduana Stars and drop two potentially vital points. Champions Berekum Chelsea continue their slump, drawing at home and extending to five game their current winless run.
Big game: Hearts of Oak always had their noses ahead after taking a first half lead against AshantiGold but were kept on their toes, even though their visitors were reduced to ten men for the last fifteen minutes. Douglas Nkrumah and Mahatma Otoo had Hearts two ahead before Mohamed Yakubu pulled one back. The two-goal advantage was restored just before the end through Isaac Ofori, but Yakubu completed his brace late on, though it only acted as a consolation.
Headline-grabbers: Without Côte d’Ivoire-born striker Ahmed Toure, Kotoko seemed to lack some of their bite in attack as they faced a resolute defensive display from Aduana Stars. Stars lie mid table but have the best defensive record as the league approaches the midway point. They have let in just six goals in 13 games and featured in seven draws already this campaign.
Morocco Botola: FUS are six point clear
Surprise leaders FUS Rabat’s quest for their first-ever title continued as they kept up their six point advantage over champions Raja Casablanca in the Botola standings. FUS won their tenth game of the season with 1-0 triumph over struggling OC Khouribga while Raja squeaked home against DH El Jadida with a stoppage time winner in a 2-1 victory.
Big game: FUS bounced back after defeat on New Year’s Eve at Meknes to beat relegation-haunted Khouribga with an 18th minute goal from Mohamed Amine El Bakkali. FUS are now up to 33 points with Raja still second after Mohamed Oulhaj scored at the death of their home game to ensure the win as they came from behind to stay in the title race.
Headline-grabbers: Two months ago Michel Decastel took charge of Wydad Casablanca in the African Champions League final. In ten games since their second leg defeat at Esperance of Tunisia, Wydad have won just once, slipping behind the front runners in the league. Decastel and the club parted ways in midweek - with the coach signing on to lead the same Esperance side that conquered his previous club just a day later. For WAC, a change in leadership did little good as they slumped to a 2-1 loss against OC Safi under the guidance of Jilal Fadel.
Swaziland Premier League: Leopards maul Lions
Police club Royal Leopards kept up their early run of form and stay four points clear with ten matches played after producing the most convincing performance of the weekend. The leaders thrashed bottom placed Red Lions 5-0 to stay ahead of Manzini Sundowns and Mbabane Swallows in the title race.
Big game: Tony Tsabedze’s return to the Swazi league saw him score for Swallows as they beat Green Mamba 4-2 in an incident filled game at the Somhlolo Stadium. The international winger, who spent close to a decade competing in the neighbouring South African Premier League, helped Swallows to a 2-0 half-time lead which set the platform for their victory.
Headline-grabbers: Muzi Ginindza scored twice in a comfortable win for Leopards to remind onlookers of his potential as the pre-match hype swirled around new Cameroon striker Etienne Massoye. But the new signing was left in the stands as Ginindza, Juries Gama and Bongani Sibandze all scored. Massoye is no stranger to Swazi football. He twice finished as the league’s leading scorer during a previous spell with Swallows.
Egypt Premier League: Zamalek making up ground
Haras El Hedood needed a goal two minutes from time to ensure victory in midweek to keep up their surprise lead, but Al Ahly and Police Union are chasing at four points back, while Cairo giants Zamalek are a point further behind after winning at Wadli Degla.
Big game: There was just one league game at the weekend as Zamalek kept up their bid for a first championship in eight years. Former Egypt national team coach Hassan Shehata is now in charge, and he saw Ahmed Gafaar come off the bench to score a second half winner in a match that had been postponed from the start of the season.
Headline-grabbers: Haras El Hedoud will not play again until next weekend but a full programme of upcoming midweek fixtures could allow the chasing powerhouses to make inroads. Ahly are seeking to make it eight victories in a row in the league at Military Production, while Police Union face ENPPI having lost just once in their last 11 outings.
A 4-1 win over Fire Masters ensured URA went to the top of the Super League in Uganda, taking over from Express who drew.
FC Nouadhibou are four points clear in Mauritania after toppling former leaders CF Cansado in a close fought 1-0 victory.
Flambeau de l’Est have a narrow one point lead after the first five rounds of the new Ligue A season in Burundi.