African Leagues review
Newly promoted Vasco da Gama inflicted a surprise defeat on front runners Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa, the latest setback in the ambitious club’s increasingly stuttering league campaign. Another of the continent’s grandees, Asante Kotoko continued to tumble down Ghana’s Glo Premier League standings while Cameroon champions Cotonsport also lost. FIFA.com rounds up the weekend action in some of Africa’s biggest leagues.
South Africa: A blow for the little guy
Mamelodi Sundowns had top striker Katlego Mphela back from injury and he scored first to set them on their way to their seventh win out of nine Premier League games. A 3-0 win over struggling Mpumalanga Black Aces opened up a four-point lead over Kaizer Chiefs, who remain second despite an embarrassing 3-2 home loss to Vasco da Gama, the small Portuguese community club who won unexpected promotion to the top flight this season and are proving a lot tougher than most pundits forecast they would be.
Big game: With a solitary point from their opening eight games, Moroka Swallows made it plain before their meeting with champions SuperSport United that anything but a win would mean the end of the tenure of coach Rainer Zobel. A 1-1 draw at home gave Swallows their second point but also brought confirmation from the Germain trainer that he would be stepping aside, the third managerial casualty of the season already.
Headline-grabbers: At 35, Sibusiso Zuma was thought to be on for a supporting role when he signed a one-season deal with newly promoted Vasco da Gama. But the former Bafana Bafana captain has proven a revelation and his brilliant individual goal against Chiefs in Johannesburg took his tally in the league campaign to five, just one off the head of the scoring charts.
Ghana: The misery continues
Glamour club Asante Kotoko continue to suffer arguably the worst turn of form in their long and illustrious history, dropping to fourth from bottom in the Premier League after yet another home defeat. This time they went down 3-2 to Bechem Chelsea, who now have a six-point lead at the top of the standings. Chelsea’s weekend was compete when Aduana Stars dropped from second place after defeat at AshantiGold SC while All Stars also lost ground after a goalless draw at home with 11th-place Dwarfs.
Big game: Kotoko have now lost five of their last six contests, but this defeat proved particularly hard for their followers to digest as the ‘Porcupine Warriors’ blew a 2-0 lead against the league leaders who staged a stirring second half comeback, culminating in Emmanuel Clottey netting the winner.
Headline-grabbers: Moro Zakari grabbed a rare top flight hat trick as Liberty Professionals thrashed B.A. Stars 4-0 in the capital to register only their fourth win in 13 matches this season.
Cameroon: More minnow magic
Union Douala and University de Ngaoundere went to the top of the Elite One standings after a surprise defeat for champions Cotonsport Garoua, who took a weakened side to meet newly promoted Caiman Douala and were punished 1-0 for the presumption. Union, lost their 100-per cent record in an away draw with Scorpions de Bey, but they are even on seven points with ‘The Students’, while Cotonsport is just a point back.
Big game: It took only three minutes for Christian Njoh to score for Caiman against Cotonsport at the Reunification Stadium, not the first time since their return to the top that they have made a quick start to a game. This time Caiman held out to the astonishment of even their own supporters, who grew rowdier and more excited as the game wore on with Cotonsport finding it impossible to impose any dominance.
Headline-grabbers: Alain Assane scored three minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game to preserve University de Ngaoundere’s unbeaten record away from home in Douala. The goal secured a 2-2 tie with Astres Douala for Luther Fokam’s team.
Libya: Back to action
Al Ittihad returned to Division 1 action after a month’s absence to overcome Al Swihli and begin their quest to catch up to early season leaders Al Ahli Benghazi. Ittihad have missed most of the campaign to date because of their run to the semi-final of the CAF Confederation Cup, but a little rust could not stop them from maintaining their 100-per cent league record as they sent out a clear signal that they fully intend to win a seventh successive championship.
Big game: Al Ittihad spent the early exchanges on the back foot away from home but took advantage of a touch of good fortune to get the only goal of the match when Al Swihli’s goalkeeper came rushing out to try and clear a long ball but was beaten to the ball by Ihaab Bousseffi.
Headline grabbers: Senegalese import Cheikh Sedao scored twice as Khaleej Sart won handsomely 4-1 against Al Nasr, the veteran captain leading by example against the Benghazi-based visitors.
The traditional battle for leadership of Tunisia’s Ligue 1 is already underway again in the early stages of the new season with Esperance one point ahead of perennial rivals Etoile Sahel. Both won at the weekend with the African runners-up scoring late to overcome JS Kairouan, while Ahmed Akaichi scored twice for Etoile away against CA Bizerte.
Dynamos were handed a severe blow to their Zimbabwe Premier League title hopes when they were beaten 1-0 by defending champions Gunners FC. They remain one point in arrears to Motor Action with four matches left in the season. Gunners are effectively out of the running, 12 points behind in fourth place.
In limited domestic action at the end of last week, Egypt's Ismaily climbed a point above Cairo rivals Al Ahly in the standings with a 3-1 win over Al Ittihad. They are on 19 points, five behind leaders Zamalek. However, Ahly have two matches in hand on both.