African Leagues review
Derby day in Ghana proved the highlight of the league weekend across the continent, with the venerable name of Asante Kotoko sounding loudly again. There was limited league activity as countries prepared for the upcoming CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the security situation kept teams inactive in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. However, ASO Chlef stretched their lead in Algeria, while the leagues in Kenya and Mozambique are led by teams still boasting 100 per cent records.
Ghana: Centenary celebration blues
Asante Kotoko ended a two-season drought by beating arch rivals Hearts of Oak 2-0 away in the capital Accra in the classic fixture of the Premier League season, delighting their fans with two wondrous strikes to triumph. The derby overshadowed a surprise reversal for runaway leader Berekum Chelsea, who lost to bottom-placed BA Stars and have had their lead cut to 12 points with eight games of the season remaining.
Big game: Kotoko are up to third place, having put their nightmare start to the season firmly behind them. It took just four minutes in front of a large crowd at the Ohene Djan Stadium for Ahmed Toure to open the scoring and Hearts’ fate was sealed after 20 minutes when Daniel Nii Adjei blasted home a spectacular effort from the edge of the area to double the advantage.
Headline-grabbers: BA Stars are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, but Prince Attakora-Gyimah and Emmanuel Mintah scored for a famous 2-0 win over the leaders, which suggests there might still be a chance to keep their top flight status. The defeat was the fifth of the season for Chelsea but second-placed Medeama SC failed to take advantage as they were held 1-1 by Heart of Lions.
Algeria: Taking advantage
With three club sides involved in African club competition ties at the weekend, ASO Chlef used the opportunity to open up a five-point gap at the top, beating JSM Bejaia 2-0 at home. Second placed ES Setif have a game in hand as they were involved in CAF Champions League action, while CR Belouizdad went third with a win over MC Saida.
Big game: Chlef took on a difficult assignment against Bejaia and had to wait until the second half before El Arbi Hillel Soudani opened the scoring and Mohamed Messaoud added a second in the final 15 minutes of the game. Chlef moved to 34 points, with ES Setif on 29 and CR Belouizdad on 26 after Ramzi Bourakba got the only goal of their win over Saida.
Headline-grabbers: The match between bottom side CA Bordj Bou Arreridj and title-chasing USM El Harrach was curtailed due to off-field disturbances. Ali-Sami Yachir had given Harrach an early lead but the game had to be abadoned when a projectile was thrown from the crowd.
Mozambique: An early leader
Maxaquene kept up their 100 per cent start to the new Mocambola season and have opened up a two-point lead on HCB Songo, one of three unbeaten teams left after just three rounds. Maxaquene won 2-0 against Incomati, while HCB Songo beat former champions Matchedje 1-0 to inflict on the Maputo cub their third loss of the season. Highly-fancied Costa do Sol finally got their first points of the season.
Big game: Maxaquene might sit on top of the table, but their win over the ambitious Incomati was far from convincing, with goals from Betinho and Nelson needed to settle Tricolores nerves. In between, Incomati were guilty of squandering a number of good chances.
Headline-grabbers: Costa do Sol were tipped among the favourites for success this season but after losing their first two matches finally got a point on board. There were too many mistakes in the match at Ferroviario Beira, but a sense of relief at finally breaking the drought when the referee Filipe Filimao signalled the end of a goalless draw.
Kenya: Showing the horns
Tusker FC scored three goals without reply away from home at Chemelil Sugar to win for a fourth time this season and keep up a 100-per cent start to the Premier League. With Sofapaka playing in Egypt in the CAF Confederation Cup at the weekend, KCB and AFC Leopards moved into the second and third spots.
Big game: Tusker are now three points clear after Dennis Mukaisi and veteran George Midenyo (2) secured a morale-boosting win for the former Kenya Breweries. Geoffrey Maina got the winner 15 minutes from time as KCB went second courtesy of a 2-1 win away at Thika United.
Headline-grabbers: High school student Edwin Lavatsa was the toast of the town for popular Gor Mahia, scoring the only goal of the game in the win over Western Stima in Nairobi. He back-heeled the ball into the net, stylishly finishing off a cross from Kevin Omondi. But he shared the headlines with goalkeeper Frederick Onyango, whose brave saves in one-on-one situations kept intact the haul of points.
Only two matches were played at the weekend in Morocco’s Botola and neither produced a goal or any change to the league positions.
The gap between leaders Black Africa and second-placed Ramblers in Namibia’s Premier League remains seven points after Ramblers lost 1-0 at home to coastal club Blue Waters.
Japan Acteul’s FC stayed top in Madagascar as Ajesaia squandered a chance to usurp them by drawing 1-1 with Iarivo FC.