African Leagues review
Action in the two continental club competitions kept most of Africa's big names away from domestic action but those involved in league business ensured it was still an interesting weekend nonetheless. Ghana’s league campaign continues with Berekum Chelsea now within touching distance of the championship, while Raja Casablanca of Morocco have opened up a decent lead in Morocco and Tusker are the early front runners in Kenya.
Ghana Premier League: Edging closer to glory
Berekum Chelsea’s maiden league title is inching ever close after they took another major scalp in the form of former continental champions Hearts of Oak. They still have a 12-point lead and, with five matches to go, now need just four more points to guarantee glory.
Big game: Emmanuel Clottey netted a first half penalty to give Berekum Chelsea a 1-0 win over Hearts of Oak. But it proved an edgy game for the leaders, who had left back Alfred Arthur sent off after half-time and had to close out the game at a numerical disadvantage.
Headline-grabbers: Nathaniel Asamoah of Asante Kotoko is having his own personal duel with Clottey to see who finishes top scorer in the domestic league. Both found the net at the weekend, with Asamoah's goal in Kotoko’s 2-1 win over Berekum Arsenal also coming from the penalty spot.
Morocco Botola: Taking advantage
Leaders Raja Casablanca were due to play a CAF Champions League tie at the weekend but the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire led to a decision to turn their third round meeting with ASEC Abidjan into a single-match tie next month. Raja therefore took advantage of the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the domestic league with an emphatic 3-0 triumph over Widad Fez that puts them five points in front of their nearest rivals.
Big game: Raja’s meeting with Widad Fez was one of only four on the weekend programme, the rest postponed because of the involvement of several Moroccan clubs in African club competition. Mouhssine Moutouali had Raja ahead on the half-hour mark and an own goal from Abderrahim Chkilit soon after the interval made their task even easier. The victory was completed on the hour when Moutouali added a penalty.
Headline-grabbers: Ibrahim Largou snatched a last-minute equaliser to give previously high-flying OC Safi a potentially precious point in a 1-1 home draw in their match with JS Massira, but the pressure at the top of the standings is taking its toll on the provincial club. They have won just one of their last seven matches and have tumbled from first to fourth, seven points behind the leaders.
Kenya Premier League: Real road warriors
Tusker’s shrugged off the challenge of their closest rivals for a seventh win in eight games that saw them increase their lead from two to three points. KCB are now second while Western Stima have dropped from second to fourth.
Big game: Tusker’s trip to Kakamega was a meeting between the top two clubs in the standings but in the end hardly proved a contest as Maurice Odipo netted twice to see off Western Stima. His goals came in the 31st and 47th minute and means Tusker have now won all five of their away games this season.
Headline-grabbers: Robert Matano led Sofapaka to the title two years ago but was abruptly sacked by his latest club AFC Leopards after the ignominy of defeat to bottom-placed Congo FC. It was a first win of the season for the newly promoted team from Mombasa, for whom Rama Salim Mbuggu netted the game’s only goal from the penalty spot.
Zimbabwe Premier League: Ruffling a few feathers
Newly-promoted Chicken Inn have ruffled a few early feathers at the start of the new season and two weekend wins have set them up as a force to be reckoned with. First they beat Black Mambas on Friday and then on Sunday they followed that up with a 4-1 win over Shooting Stars Luveve.
Big game: CAPS United have let their early season lead slip with a defeat in midweek and then a weekend draw at home to Black Mambas. The 1-1 result led to protest by a section of fans against coach Moses Chunga.
Headline-grabbers: Chicken Inn play with a team of virtual unknowns but do have some experience in the form of former Zimbabwe fullback Herbert Dick as they venture into their season in the top flight. The likes of Canaan Nkomo, who scored twice against Stars, Qinani Sibanda and Thomas Chimenya are fast making a name for themselves and all got on the scoresheet at the weekend.
CS Sfaxien won 3-0 away at CA Bizertin to go third in Tunisia’s Ligue 1, where the top two did not play at the weekend.
APR's 14-match winning streak to start the season in Rwanda's National Football League came to an end over the weekend as they lost a derby 1-0 to AS Kigali.
A 2-0 home defeat left Wusum Stars ruing a missed a chance to move ahead in the early days of the Sierra Leone Premier League, where there are three teams on 11 points at the top of the table.