Morocco’s fiery derby had a dramatic late twist as Wydad Casablanca emerged victorious to stay among the front-runners in the league. Continental giants like Zamalek and Entente Setif kept their top places elsewhere on the continent, but the heady fall of Asante Kotoko in Ghana continued. FIFA.com rounds up the weekend action in some of Africa’s leagues.
Morocco: Late derby winner
Postponed by a week, the ‘classic’ between Raja and Wydad Casablanca did not disappoint despite the delay, providing a last-minute winner as Wydad won 2-1 to stay just three points behind the leaders in the Botola. Wydad also have two games in hand on leaders OC Khouribga, who were held to a 1-1 draw at KAC Marrakesh and now sit on 21 points from 11 matches. MAS Fez are second in the standings with 19 points after they let an away lead slip at MA Tetotuan and also drew.
Big game: Raja Casablanca might have dominated the game, but Wydad won all of the points, opening the scoring against the run of play through Mouhssine Iajour, who had a simple tap in from Ait El Arif’s cross. Hassan Tair equalised from a set piece in the 52nd minute with the pendulum seemingly swinging Raja’s way when Wydad had the French-born former Morocco international midfielder Jamal Alioui sent off at around the same time. But instead of ratcheting up the pressure, Raja sought more to entertain the crowd and even after the coach Mohamed Fakhir added a third striker on as substitute they failed to take advantage. Instead Iajour sneaked a winner with his second goal of the game.
Headline-grabbers: Morocco’s first choice goalkeeper, Nadir Lamyaghri, cemented his position as the country’s top custodian with several fine saves and a man of the match performance particularly in the first half of the derby win. Iajour’s two goals against his former team-mates will have done nothing to revive old friendships, but for the ‘red half’ of Casablanca, he is now a massive hero.
Cameroon: Early front runners
A week after losing in Douala, champions Cotonsport Garoua returned to the coastal city to beat hosts Union Douala 1-0 in a fixture many consider an early indicator of the destiny of the Elite One title. Cotonsport are one point behind the University of Ngaoundere, who are one of only two unbeaten teams left after the first four rounds of the new season. The students beat Tiko United 2-0, while Scorpion de Bey kept their record intact albeit with a third draw of the season at home to YOSA.
Big game: Hilaire Momi was instrumental in applying the finishing touch to a swift break away as Cotonsport cleared off the line at one end of the pitch and raced down to the other end to score. Union did hit the post through Jacques Nguemaleu in the second half as they tried to force their way back, but once former Cameroon international Nicolas Alnoudji was brought on to solidify the Cotonsport defences, the opposition’s chances dried up.
Headline-grabbers: The profile of the Central African Republic, one of African football’s backwaters, has been given a major boost in recent months in the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Hilaire Momi has played a significant part in that and continues to enhance his reputation at Cotonsport, who took him to Cameroon from the Central African Republic two years ago.
Egypt: Leaders make heavy work of win
Zamalek stayed on top of the premier league standings after beating Al Ittihad of Alexandria 4-3 and are four points clear of Police Union. But they continue to look over their shoulder at their perennial rivals Al Ahly, who have played two matches less, but after a surprise draw with bottom placed Smouha, are eight points behind.
Big game: Zamalek made heavy work of their win but triumphed by the odd goal in seven, with a hat trick from Shikabala. They were initially behind to Al Ittihad whose fiesty approach belied their position amid the relegation candidates in the standings. But after Ittihad defender Al Sayed Farid was sent off in the 33rd minute and Shikabala scored from the subsequent free kick, Zamalek got into the stride and stayed on course for the full haul of points.
Headline-grabbers: Shikabala, or Mahmoud Fadlallah to give him his real name, has been the subject of much transfer speculation in recent months, an on-off move to Belgian champions Anderlecht having the potential of proving a major distraction. His hat trick took his tally of premier league goals to eight and moved him above Ahmed Abdezaher of ENPPI in the goal scoring charts.
Ghana: The crash continues
Asante Kotoko’s rapid descent from their long established position of power in the Ghana Premier League continued with yet another defeat. They are now just one place above the relegation zone after being beaten at Dwarfs. Bechem Chelsea’s lead at the head of the standings is six points after a 2-0 win over Liberty Professionals in Berekum.
Big game: Kotoko’s slump continue to engender more interest than the fight at the top of the table as one of Africa’s most fabled clubs finds itself in deep trouble. Seidu Banson scored the only goal in the second half at the Robert Mensah Stadium to ensure victory for Dwarfs on the Cape Coast.
Headline grabbers: Abdul Basit and Emmanuel Clottey were the scorers for Bechem Chelsea as they won a ninth game of the season while Nurudeen Ali got a late goal for champions Aduana Stars, whose 1-0 win over Hearts of Lions moves them into second place.
Entente Setif were held to a goalless draw at home by Mouloudia Oran, allowing ASO Chlef to join them on 20 points at the head of Algeria’s Ligue 1 standings. Chlef won at home, as did third placed JSM Bejaia, who scored a 5-2 win over MC El Eulma to take their point tally to 19.
With two rounds left in the premier league in Zimbabwe, Motor Action and Dynamos are now tied at the top with 60 points after Motor Action lost ground in a home draw with Highlanders. Seeking their first title, they now risk letting the opportunity slip as Harare’s most popular club seek to usurp them and win the championship for a record 13th time.