The fairy tale CAF Confederation Cup run of South African club Black Leopards continued this weekend with a 4-2 home win over St Eloi Lupopo from Congo DR. Dreadlocked centre-back Humphrey Khoza scored twice, while Nigerian Joshua Obaje and Thomas Madimba were also on target for the north-east club who led 3-1 at half-time.
Spaniard Alexandru Oprica and Munganga Djunga netted for Lupopo - hailing from mining hub Lubumbashi, who have been regular African campaigners since 1969 while Leopards are participating for the first time this year. Obaje also had a goal disallowed by the Zambian referee during first half stoppage time in Giyani.
Leopards upset Motor Action of Zimbabwe in the preliminary round by winning 2-0 away after being held at home and now have a realistic chance of making the last-16 after the early April return match. It was the seventh fixture in 21 days for the South Africans, promoted this season and battling against relegation, but they ran the Congolese side ragged at times on a hot afternoon.
While Khoza demonstrated his aerial prowess by twice converting corners with near-post headers, the pick of the goals from a lively game came when wide midfielder Oprica struck with an elegant side-footed shot into the roof the net.
Other preliminary round giant-killers Kallon FC of Sierra Leone and Royal Leopard of Swaziland were less successful and had to settle for draws at home, and face tough second-leg tasks. The Sierra Leonean team, featuring and owned by former Monaco and Inter Milan star Mohamed Kallon, drew 0-0 in Freetown with Warri Wolves, a Nigerian outfit including national squad goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim and midfielder Sunday Mba.
Lokinga Lomboto gave Congo DR outfit US Tshinkunku the lead over Royal Leopard in Manzini and Juries Gama levelled for the police club, who eliminated Zambian air force side Red Arrows in the previous round. Tunisian team Club Africain, runners-up last year behind Moghreb Fes of Morocco, held Saint George 1-1 in Ethiopia with Hamza Messaadi equalising after Shimeles Bekele broke the deadlock.
Moghreb are competing in the more prestigious CAF Champions League this year, leaving Wydad Casablanca and CODM Meknes to represent Morocco, with both title challengers beginning by sealing away victories. Goals from Ibrahima Souri and Salaheddine Khlifi earned Meknes a 2-0 win over Sequence FC in Guinea while Congo Brazzaville-born Lys Mouithys and Mouhcine Iajour netted as Wydad won by a similar score at Invincible XI of Liberia.
Former African champions ASEC Mimosas of the Côte d'Ivoire led and trailed during a thrilling 2-2 draw at Etoile Filante of Burkina Faso and Heartland of Nigeria forced a goalless stalemate with US Haut Nkam in Cameroon port Douala.