Emeka Opara made a dream return to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia by scoring the goals that earned a 2-0 win over Asante Kotoko of Ghana on Sunday in the African Confederation Cup.
The diminutive Nigerian quit the 'Red Devils' from the Mediterranean resort of Sousse two years ago for German club Kaiserslautern, having helped establish Etoile among the leading clubs on the continent.
Opara opened the scoring after 13 minutes at the Olympic Stadium and added a second on 70 minutes in the high-profile match of the first round of group fixtures in the African equivalent of the European UEFA Cup.
After the recent departure of outstanding young striker Amine Chermiti to another German club, Hertha Berlin, in a €1.5 million deal, Sahel hope Opara can be a major source of goals.
Kotoko, runners-up to compatriots Hearts of Oak in the first edition four years ago, sorely missed suspended striker Emmanuel Osei Kuffour who was red-carded during the final qualifiers last month.
Al-Merreikh of Sudan outplayed Jeunesse Sportive Kabylie of Algeria 3-1 in Omdurman on Saturday in the other Group B encounter, with national team midfielder Ahmed Mogahid scoring twice. He wasted little time exposing the defensive frailties of the visitors by scoring after two and 13 minutes only for Hafidh Saad to concede an own goal just before half-time.
Merreikh, runners-up to CS Sfaxien of Tunisia last year, continued to dominate in the second half, and regained a two-goal advantage courtesy of a Alaa Abdelzahar goal on 61 minutes.
Kabylie host 2006 Confederation Cup holders Sahel and Kotoko will have home advantage over Merreikh in the second round of fixtures on the last weekend of this month.
Sfaxien made a bold debut in Group A by thrashing InterClube of Angola 4-1 in Tunisia, thanks to goals from Abdelkrim Nafti, Guinean Naby Soumah, Ghanaian Agyemang Opoku and Hamza Younes. The visitors had to wait 87 minutes at the Tayeb Mhiri Stadium before 'Boumba' grabbed a consolation goal and appear set to struggle in a pool completed by Harras al-Hodoud of Egypt and Club Africain of Tunisia.
It was the most impressive result achieved by Sfaxien, who struggled to overcome Bejaia of Algeria and Linguere of Senegal before showing slight improvement when ousting Platinum Stars of South Africa last month.
Unfashionable Hodoud recovered from conceding an early goal to edge Club Africain 2-1 in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria via goals from Mohamed Fawzy and Ahmed Abdelghani. Dhaouadi Zouheir put 1991 African Champions League winners Club Africain ahead after six minutes, Fawzy levelled for the para-military outfit midway through the second half, and Abdelghani snatched the winner 10 minutes from full-time.
Hodoud make the long journney south to Luanda for a second round fixture against InterClube in the next series, while Tunis will play host to the first Tunisian derby between Club Africain and Sfaxien.