Draws aplenty and one major surprise

It was a hectic weekend in the 2012 CAF Champions League, with all but one of the Round-of-32 first-leg games taking place. Eight of the 15 matches ended all square, including the 1-1 draw between title-holders Esperance ST and Gambia’s Brikama United and a 0-0 stalemate between Egypt’s Al Ahly and Ethiopian Coffee. However, amid the modest scorelines, there was one major surprise: the 5-0 drubbing Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca received at the hands of Ghanaian outfit Berekum Chelsea. FIFA.com has all the details.

Game of the week
Zamalek 1-0 Africa Sports
Caution was the watchword in this fixture, which largely failed to live up to expectations. After a first-minute goal by Zamalek’s Benin striker Razak Omotoyossi, the Ivorians packed their defence, allowing their opponents to sit back and preserve their lead. And while it was still a vital win for the Egyptian giants, Africa Sports will fancy their chances of restoring parity when they host the return leg in a fortnight’s time.

The surprise
Berekum Chelsea 5-0 Raja Casablanca
In last week’s CAF Champions League preview, FIFA.com predicted that Berekum Chelsea would turn out to be the surprise package of the tournament, but the Ghanaian side surpassed all expectations when they dismantled three-time African champions Raja Casablanca by five goals to nil. The underdogs dominated proceedings from the opening whistle, with Berekum’s star striker Emmanuel Clottey helping himself to a hat-trick. Solomon Asanti and captain Abdul Basit weighed in with the remaining two, leaving their opponents shell-shocked and facing an uphill struggle in the return leg.

The other matches
Tunisia’s Esperance ST began the defence of their title campaign with an unconvincing 1-1 draw against Gambia’s Brikama United. The champions went ahead after four minutes courtesy of a strike by Wajdi Bouazzi, but Musa Bojang equalised for the hosts just eight minutes later, after which neither side had any clear-cut chances.

The weekend also saw Egypt’s Al Ahly return to action for the first time since the tragic events of Port Said, with the six-time continental champions travelling to Ethiopia to take on Ethiopian Coffee. Though clear favourites going into the match, the Egyptians’ star-studded line-up looked out of sorts and the game petered out into a goalless draw.

Al Hilal recorded the biggest away victory of the round so far, their 3-0 win over hosts DFC8 all but guaranteeing them a place in the next round. Mudathir El Tahir, Edward Sadomba and Bakri Almadina provided the goals and, had the Sudanese not squandered several other good chances, the final result would have been even more emphatic.

Only one of the scheduled 16 games was not played, the encounter between Benin’s Tonnerre and Stade Mali postponed due to political developments in Mali.

Player to watch
Emmanuel Clottey’s hat-trick for Berekum Chelsea against Raja Casablanca was that of a striker on top form and bodes well for the Ghanaian club’s prospects in this year’s competition. In 2007 the then 20-year-old Clottey topped the goalscoring charts in Ghana’s domestic league with 14 goals.

The stat
8 - A grand total of eight of last weekend’s games ended in a draw.

What they said
“When you face a team like Raja Casablanca on your home ground, the first thing you have to do is take a risk and try and score as many goals as possible, because beating them in Morocco is very difficult indeed,” Berekum Chelsea coach Hans van der Pluym.

The results of the CAF Champions League Round of 32 ties (23-25 March):
Platinum (ZIM) 2-2 (SDN) Al Merreikh
Brikama United (GAM) 1-1 (TUN) Esperance ST
Zamalek (EGY) 1-0 (CIV) Africa Sports
Power Dynamos (ZAM) 1-1 (COD) Mazembe
APR FC (RWA) 0-0 (TUN) Etoile du Sahel
ASO Chlef (ALG) 0-0 (COD) Vita Club
JSM Bejaia (ALG) 1-2 (CIV) AFAD Djekanou
Ethiopian Coffee (ETH) 0-0 (EGY) Al Ahly
Dolphins (NGA) 2-1 (CMR) Coton Sport
URA (UGA) 0-2 (MLI) Djoliba
Recreativo do Libolo (ANG) 4-1 (NGA) Sunshine Stars
Berekum Chelsea (GHA) 5-0 (MAR) Raja Casablanca
Liga Muculmana (MOZ) 2-2 (ZIM) Dynamos
Horoya AC (GUI) 1-1 (MAR) Maghreb de Fes
DFC8 (CTA) 0-3 (SDN) Al Hilal
Tonnerre (BEN)–(MLI) Stade Mali (postponed)