Swallows soar as Raja hit six
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Swaziland's Mbabane Swallows shocked Zambian visitors Nkana 2-0 at the weekend when the qualifying rounds of the 2014 CAF Champions League kicked off.

Kudzanayi Matanda and Felix Badenhorst scored within five minutes during the second half in the first leg of a preliminary round clash. Both goals at the national stadium near Mbabane followed defensive blunders, with Billy Mwanza to blame for the opening goal and Christopher Munthali for the second.

Traditionally, Swazi clubs are seen as cannon fodder in CAF competitions, but Swallows bucked the trend last season by giving Zambian outfit Zanaco a scare. Back in Africa after a 12-year absence, Nkana host the return match this weekend with the overall winners set to face Kampala Capital City Authority.

The Ugandans shocked seasoned campaigners El-Merrikh 2-0 in Sudan with two goals in as many minutes midway through the opening half. Herman Wasswa broke the deadlock and Tony Odur added the second while Merrikh failed to convert a penalty during relentless pressure after half-time.

Another unexpected result came off the west coast in the Portuguese-speaking island state of Sao Tome e Principe with Sporting Praia Cruz winning 3-2 against Malians Stade Malien. A late entrant after Algerians El-Harrach withdrew, African debutants Sporting led and trailed before Jair snatched the 80th-minute.

Stade are regular African competitors, winning the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup five years ago, and will be fancied to repair the damage this weekend in Bamako.

Fellow Malians Real Bamako fared better, leading twice in an exciting 2-2 draw away to 1985 African champions FAR Rabat of Morocco. Moussa Doumbia broke the deadlock 12 minutes from time and Real led again before Salahuddin Aqqal spared home blushes with an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time.

FAR were among six former Champions League title-holders in action and the other five triumphed with Raja Casablanca of Morocco the most impressive. The 2013 FIFA Club World Cup runners-up to Bayern Munich crushed Sierra Leone visitors Diamond Stars 6-0, with four goals coming from Mouhcine Iajour.

Egyptian club Zamalek, whose five titles is bettered only by the eight of compatriots Al-Ahly, won 2-0 in Cairo against Douanes of Niger. Mohamed Ibrahim and Moemen Zakareya were on target for a 'White Knights' side coached by former Tottenham Hotspur striker Mido. A 25,000 crowd at the Cairo Stadium was a rare sight, with domestic fixtures played behind closed doors since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi last year.

Nigerians Enyimba, the 2003 and 2004 title-holders, left it late to build a 3-1 home advantage over CAF rookies Anges Notse of Togo. Camara Cheik gave Anges a first-half lead they held until seven minutes from time when Sibi Gwar levelled in south-eastern city Aba. Kingsley Sokari and Gwar then scored the goals that should ensure the 'People's Elephant' survive the return match in Lome.

Fellow Nigerians Kano Pillars were less successful, having Bello Kofarmata sent off in a 3-1 defeat away to 1973 champions Vita of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kwabena Adusei converted two penalties, meanwhile, as two-time title-holders Asante Kotoko of Ghana battled to a 2-1 home win over Liberians Barrack Young Controllers.

Defending champions Ahly are among six clubs given byes into the first round, scheduled for February and March.