Holders TP Mazembe edged through to the last 16 of the CAF Champions League, and were joined by fellow former winners Entente Setif, JS Kabylie, Esperance, Ismaili and Al Ahly. However, Raja Casablanca and ASEC Abidjan, who conquered the first two editions of the tournament under the current format it adopted in 1997, were eliminated.
Mazembe were forced to move the second leg of their tie against APR to Kinshasa, some 1,500km from their Lubumbashi base, because their home ground is having an artificial surface installed. And being 1-0 down from the first leg, there was suspicion it could be a disappointing afternoon for Congo DR’s champions at the Martyrs Stadium.
The talismanic Tresor Mputu levelled the aggregate scores in the sixth minute, though, and Patou Kabungu went on to add the all-important second some 18 minutes from time. Mazembe will now take on the winners of the meeting between Senegal’s ASC Linguere or Djoliba of Mali for a place in the group phase.
Egypt’s Al Ahly, despite exiting last year’s Champions League early on, were always going to be among the favourites for gold. After being handed a bye into the second round, however, they lost 1-0 to Gunners in their first leg in Zimbabwe.
And although the Cairo giants did just enough – an Ahmed Shokri goal preceding a Mohamed Samir penalty on the stroke of half-time to earn a 2-1 aggregate victory – they did little to enhance their title credentials. Afterwards, Ahly coach Hossam Al Badri blamed a taxing schedule of both domestic and continental fixtures for a lacklustre performance.
JS Kabylie won the showdown of former champions, albeit narrowly over Tunisian heavyweights Club Africain. A goal in the 36th minute from Yahia Cherif settled the tie in the Algerians’ favour on Friday. Kabylie’s countrymen Entente Setif advanced in far more emphatic fashion, beating 1979 African champions Union Douala 5-0 on Friday to complete a 7-0 aggregate success.
Esperance also issued an early warning of their potential by beating ASFA Yennenga 3-1 in Ouagadougou to go through 7-2 on aggregate. Khaled Ayari score twice in the first quarter-hour to put the tie beyond the Burkina Faso side’s reach.
Raja, ASEC bow out
Raja Casablanca were always up against possible elimination after failing to win at home in the first leg of their tie with Angola’s Petro Atletico, and they duly paid the price in Luanda on Sunday. Petro, aiming to reach the group phase for the first time since they were semi-finalists in 2001, won Sunday’s return match 1-0 with a goal from Ridy in the 64th minute.
ASEC lost by a solitary goal to Zanaco in Zambia, but were full of confidence for the return leg in Abidjan on Sunday. They were, however, unable to live up to their pre-match predictions and a 1-1 draw sealed their elimination. The Ivorians were on course early in the game, but a Trinity Chalanshi free-kick ensured Zanaco went through.