African Leagues review
It was a weekend for football lovers across Africa as matches in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa all produced sparking entertainment, albeit with a lack of goals. Mamelodi Sundowns remain leaders in South Africa while Dolphin FC are emerging as the side to beat in Nigeria. But it is in Ghana that a potential champion is already emerging, with Berekum Chelsea looking to be running away with the lead.
Ghana: Championship in sight
An 11-point lead for Chelsea of Ghana puts them well on course for a first Premier League title as they reaffirmed their credentials by halting the comeback bid of the country’s most successful-ever side, Asante Kotoko. Champions Aduana Stars, just two weeks away from their CAF Champions League debut, moved second after beating AshantiGold SC.
Big game: There was no love lost when former African champions Hearts of Oak hosted Heart of Lions in a bid to continue their mini revival after a bad start to the season. But the visitors from Kpandu brought those hopes to a swift end as Gilbert Fiamenyoh scored for a three-point haul, with the Phobians missing a hatful of chances.
Headline-grabbers: Emmanuel Clottey’s credentials as a goal scorer are already well established as he topped the goal-scoring charts three years ago and has also had brief spells at clubs in Austria and Denmark. His value to Chelsea was no more evident than in the game against Kotoko, where he robbed opposing midfielder Frank Boateng of the ball in the centre circle and played a swift one-two with Abdul Basit before scoring the game’s only goal.
South Africa: FIFA World Cup flashback
Mamelodi Sundowns have extended their lead at the head of the standings, bouncing back from two successive defeats to turn in an emphatic second half performance in their 3-0 defeat of Maritzburg United. But the country is all a-twitter over the pulsating action served up as Ajax Cape Town beat Kaizer Chiefs, to usurp them into second place. Orlando Pirates also lost ground on the leaders as they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Santos.
Big game: All 40,000 seats made available at Cape Town’s FIFA World Cup™ stadium were taken and the sell-out crowd were richly rewarded with one of the best Premier League games in years. Kaizer Chiefs found themselves outfoxed by a rampant Ajax Cape Town, who revelled in a World Cup atmosphere as they snatched second place with a second-half penalty from Brent Carelse. The game was played at a furious pace and filled with thrills and spills, but it took a defensive slip to eventually decide it.
Headline-grabbers: Veteran Dutch coach Foppe de Haan spent two decades at SC Hereenveen and then had a successful spell coaching Dutch youth national teams before arriving in South Africa in late 2009 for a career-concluding foreign adventure. He has worked assiduously in moulding Ajax’s young players into an effective unit, their crisp passing and rapid movements now beginning to reap dividends.
Nigeria: Leaders start to pull away
Dolphin FC’s lead over Sunshine Stars remains at two points after both sides won again at the weekend. But after several weeks of early season congestion at the top of the table, a pecking order is now starting to establish itself. The gap between Dolphin and third-placed Rangers International FC and Warri Wolves remains at six points.
Big game: Defending champions Enyimba have been desperately trying to find some consistency through the opening 10 matches of the season - winning five and losing five. So far failing to find the momentum which carried them to last season’s title, they were hoping to move back among the contenders at home against Warri Wolves. But despite both sides producing some sparkling form at Aba, their weekend clash ended goalless. It was Enyimba’s first draw of the season and also saw Wolves slip away from the leaders.
Headline-grabbers: Ejindu was top scorer for his club last season and Dolphin FC were happy to hold on to his services for the new campaign, with their captain linked with a possible move away in the off-season. Their pleasure was even more marked after he scrambled home the only goal of a tough home match against Lobi Stars, his 61st minute strike his second goal of the new campaign.
Cameroon: Gap stays at three points
The gap between champions CotonSport Garoua and second Union Douala remains three points as both pulled away from the rest of the Elite One field at the weekend. CotonSport inflicted only the second defeat of the season on Sable Batie 2-1, while Union won 3-2 away at bottom placed AS Lausanne Yaounde.
Big game: Coach Maurice Mpondo warned his Union Douala players about teams at the bottom posing problems, and so it proved as winless AS Lausanne Yaounde fought back hard but could not conjure up a late equaliser. Two goals from Ngome Ntombe had Union coasting before Lausanne’s second-half resurgence.
Headline grabbers: CotonSport’s Hilaire Momi has now grabbed seven goals this season to go to the top of the Elite One goal scoring charts. The Central African Republic international’s 14th-minute effort was followed by a second goal straight after half-time from Ewangue Mbongo.
Army club USFAS helped the chasing pack in Mali’s national league by holding leaders Djoliba to a goalless draw.
A convincing 3-0 win for USO over last season’s cup winners USFA means they are two points ahead of champions ASFA Yennega in Burkina Faso’s national league.
Manzini Wanderers might be at the top of the Swaziland league but coach Thabo Vilakati was sacked before the weekend, leaving assistant Christain Thwala in charge for 3-2 win over Hellenic.