Ivorian, Congolese giants on comeback trail

Africa Sports and Daring Club Motema Pembe have fallen on hard times at international level and hope the CAF Confederation Cup can usher a return to the good old days.

Both are virtually assured of qualifying this weekend for the second of four qualifying rounds before the lucrative group phase after establishing first-leg advantages on foreign fields last month.

Magloire Kouame scored late in the first half to earn twice CAF Cup Winners Cup victors Africa Sports of Côte d'Ivoire a 1-0 win against international rookies Sequence in Guinea. The 1990s were a golden period for the Abidjan club with three Cup Winners Cup final appearances and they won the first CAF Super Cup by defeating Moroccan visitors Wydad Casablanca in a penalty shoot-out.

But the last decade saw the club fade from the international and domestic limelight, leaving fierce rivals ASEC Mimosas to continuously pose the major Ivorian threat in African football combat. Assuming they eliminate the Guineans, the Eagles would face Burkina Faso armed forces outfit USFA in the second round and this appears another winnable tie for the Abidjan club.

Motema Pembe seem certain to progress as they enjoy home advantage over Zanzibar navy club KMKM and a 4-0 lead from the first match on the popular tourist destination off the Tanzanian coast. Salakiaku Matondo - part of the Democratic Republic of Congo squad that surrendered the CAF Nations Championship title in Sudan last weekend - inflicted most damage with a goal in each half.

Ilongo Ngasanya and Isawa Mfumu were also on target for the Kinshasa club that won the 1994 African Cup Winners Cup with a three-goal Nairobi triumph over Kenyan Breweries after being held at home in the first leg. That triumph earned Motema a crack at Esperance of Tunisia in Alexandria for the African Super Cup, but the Congolese were outclassed and slumped to a 3-0 defeat. A team capable of filling the 90,000-capacity Martyrs Stadium in the DR Congo capital has not come close to international glory since, but kind pairings offer hope of progress this year.

Humble Ugandans Victors await the winners and it is easy to envisage Pembe reaching the third round where Egyptian coast guard side Harras al-Hodoud are the likely opponents.

AS Real of Mali, Sahel of Niger, Ashanti Gold of Ghana and Missile of Gabon should clinch second-round places from other ties in the second-tier African club competition that offers a US$660,000 first prize.