Champions-elect slip in Egypt, Cameroon
The title races in both Cameron and Egypt could have been settled at the weekend but both front runners failed to capitalise and now face a wait before being crowned champions. Tunisia’s race for the title moved into its final week with little to separate rivals Esperance and Etoile Sahel, both former African champions, while Nigeria’s league is months from being settled but the frontrunners are already showing sighs of wariness.
Egypt Premier League: Not so routine assignment
Al Ahly had a chance to wrap up the title, but they suffered a major scare against relegation-haunted Smouha and had to fight back just to gain a point. But with two rounds left the leaders need only two more points to make sure of an eighth successive title, coming from behind this season to usurp arch rivals Zamalek, who again failed to post a win and now look likely to pay a heavy price for their dip in form at the end of the campaign.
Big game: Ahly were expecting a routine assignment against Smouha, but faint hopes of avoiding relegation proved a powerful spur as the visitors took a surprise 2-0 lead in the second half through veteran Ghanaian Godwin Attram. Ahly had to fight their way back, first through Osama Hosny, and then they equalised deep in injury time through centre back Ahmed Sayed. The goal maintained Ahly’s five-point lead at the top of the table and effectively condemned Smouha to the second division.
Headline-grabbers: Mahmoud Shikabala was red carded and Ahmed Gaafar missed a penalty as Zamalek’s woes continued in a 1-1 draw with Al Ittihad. Having failed to beat Ahly in the midweek derby, the former African champions may be forced to surrender their ever-receding hopes of league success on Thursday when the penultimate round of the championship is decided.
Cameroon Elite One: Celebrations delayed
Coton Sport were hoping to celebrate their eighth championship success in the last nine years but instead suffered only their second defeat of the league season in going down at YOSA. It kept alive the slender hopes of second-placed Astres Douala, who beat back Union Douala in a 1-0 win to keep a mathematical chance of snatching away the title if Coton Sport lose their two remaining matches.
Big game: Coton Sport had been unbeaten for the last six months, but hopes of a coronation were stymied in Bamenda at the hands of Yong Sports Academy. A 25th-minute goal pegged back Denis Lavagne’s side and left them needing just two points from the final rounds to again take the title.
Headline-grabbers: Astres Douala ended the unbeaten run that third-placed Union Douala had achieved under new coach Jules Nyongha and kept themselves in contention for a berth in next year’s CAF Champions League with a 1-0 home win. The derby success means Astres are four points clear of third placed Union and five behind leaders Coton Sport.
Tunisia Ligue 1: Two is the number
Two rounds of the title race are now left, and two points still separate the two major contenders. Defending champions Esperance and perennial challengers Etoile Sahel kept up their tussle at the top with important 2-0 wins. Esperance moved to 58 points with a win over AS Gabes while Etoile won away at ES Zarzis, including a goal for their Brazilian import Francileudo dos Santos.
Big game: Esperance made it seven wins in a row in Ligue 1 as Ousamma Darragi was again among the goals, getting his team off to a 24th-minute lead with his tenth tally of the season. Malian Dramane Traore settled the game midway through the second half at Rades as he lobbed the goalkeeper on the counter-attack.
Headline-grabbers: Francileudo dos Santos, known as Santos, played for Tunisia at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ after having been recruited by Etoile Sahel. He went on to play at Sochaux and Toulouse in France before returning to Etoile. His goal against Zarzis on Sunday was the second of the season for the 32-year-old.
Nigeria Premier League: Leaders tumble
Sunshine Stars kept up their narrow lead on goal difference from Dolphin FC as both the table-topping sides lost at the weekend. Stars were beaten 3-2 at Kwara United while Dolphin lost at Heartland FC in Owerri. Dolphin have a game in hand over Stars and the pair still lead the chasing pack by four points.
Big game: Stars suffered a third defeat in their last four and a second successive setback as Kwara United came from behind in Ilorin to win with a late goal from winger Anthony Okemiri. Stars had been 2-1 up with just 15 minutes to go but allowed Isiaka Olawale to equalise with his second of the game and then gave up the late winner. It was the second successive game that they conceded three goals.
Headline-grabbers: Musa Musa helped Kano Pillars achieve what no other side has been able to do over the last two years: beat Enugu Rangers at home at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium. Musa scored a fine solo goal just ten minutes into the second half, while Rangers’ Uwadiegwu Ugwu missed a penalty for the home side to settle things at an unlikely 1-0 for the visitors.
GiraBola leaders Kabuscorp were surprisingly beaten at home by Santos but still have a three-point lead at the top of the Angolan title race.
It was a similar story in Senegal where Ouakam were held to a goalless draw but still lead the championship by three points
The race for the runners-up spot in Algeria saw JSM Bejaia take second place from CR Belouizdad after beating them 1-0 away in the penultimate round of the season.