Trio of champs crowned in Africa
Champions were crowned in Angola, Zambia and Mozambique, while the title race in Kenya is headed for an exciting finale. And in Tunisia and Ghana it is not too early in the new season for some of the favourites to start flexing their muscles.
Angola Girabola: Libolo win first title
Recreativo Libolo made sure of their first ever Girabola title with a thrilling 3-3 draw at home with FC Cabinda, who made a valiant but ultimately fruitless effort to stave off relegation. Libolo, who now compete in next year’s CAF Champions League, ended one point clear of Kabuscorp, who finished with a 2-1 win away at Santos FC. Last year’s champions Petro Atletico came third, while cup finalists Primeiro Maio and Academica Lobito are also relegated.
Big game: A celebratory atmosphere permeated the air at Calulo Stadium, but Cabinda looked to be party spoilers as they led at half-time through Bebeto’s 17th-minute goal. Libolo were twice forced to come back but Aguinaldo made it 2-2 on 70 minutes and Libolo were set to finish their season with a win when Adawa’s penalty made it 3-2 with a minute left. But battling Cabinda, who had to win to save their Girabola status, found an equaliser through Neruda two minutes into stoppage time.
Headline-grabbers: Libolo coach Zeca Amaral lost his post as national coach earlier in the year but answered back by winning the league with Libolo. However, the 3-3 draw in the final game of the season did not please him. “We are champions, but the attitude of the players on the field was not the right one,” he grumbled after conceding three goals to lowly FC Cabinda.
Zambia Super Divison: Power Dynamos come good
Power Dynamos won their first league title in 11 years, and their seventh overall, after beating Zanaco by a single goal to clinch the championship with one match to play. The win moved the Copperbelt-based club to 56 points, out of the reach of Red Arrows, who had led for most of the campaign.
Big game: Kitwe’s Arthur Davies Stadium was packed for the match against former champions Zanaco, with Power’s visiting support outnumbering that of the hosts. But they had several nervy moments before Luka Lungu scored on the stroke of half-time to give Dynamos the lead. It came after a botched clearance from the home goalkeeper, who will now enjoy quasi-folk hero status among the Power fans.
Headline-grabbers: Beston Chambeshi was part of a golden generation of international footballers for Zambia who made a major breakthrough for African football at the 1988 Olympic Games. Now he has coaching success too with his first title at the helm of Power Dynamos. His success follows that of several of his former team-mates, who have become championship-winning coaches like Fighton Simukonda and Wedson Nyirenda.
Tunisia Ligue 1: A new season underway
Defending champions Esperance will not start the new league season until Wednesday because they played in Sunday’s CAF Champions League final, first leg in Morocco, but for the rest of the Tunisian clubs the season has finally begun. Last season’s runners-up Etoile Sahel won easily, but there was a surprise home defeat for CS Sfaxien, third in the last campaign.
Big game: Lamjed Cheoudi and Laasaad Jaziri scored the goals as Etoile Sahel easily saw off neighbours ES Hammam-Sousse 3-1 at Sousse’s Olympic Stadium. It was a three-goal lead at half-time to Khaled Ben Sassi’s team, who are again expected to be among the frontrunners for the title.
Headline-grabbers: JS Kairouan scored a 5-2 away win over Olympique Beja in a rare display of firepower in a league notorious for its low scoring matches. JSK were 3-0 up inside the opening 20 minutes but then ceded two quick strikes and had just a one-goal lead at half-time. But after the interval Houssem Hamzaoui and Houcine Jabeur made sure of a surprise away triumph.
Ghana Premier League: Hearts beating strongly
Hearts of Oak have opened up a two-point lead in the early going of the new season, just ahead of their long standing rivals Asante Kotoko. Hearts won 2-0 against New Edubiase to make it four wins out of five so far this campaign. Kotoko were held at Berekum Arsenal while champions Berekum Chelsea won their first game since firing their coach.
Big game: Hearts were a goal to the good after Uriah Asante scored but there was much controversy over their second goal, seven minutes from the end, when Joseph Tagoe’s effort was ruled in but the visitors protested it had not crossed the line. The goal stood to mark just the sixth in five games for the low-scoring leaders.
Headline-grabbers: Dutch coach Hans van der Pluym got off to a winning start at Chelsea after replacing the Englishman Steven Pollack. Captain Abdul Basit converted a penalty after just three minutes away to newly-promoted Wassaman United in Sekondi, before Emmanuel Clottey scored twice and Mubarak Moro got the fourth in a 4-1 win.
Liga Muculmana successfully defended their Mozambique Mocambola title in spectacular fashion with an 8-2 thumping of bottom-placed Sporting Beira.
A 2-1 away win for Tusker FC over KCB kept up their slender lead in the closing stages of Kenya’s Premier League.
USM Alger have taken over from CR Belouizdad at the top of Algeria’s Ligue 1. USMA drew at home but CRB suffered a 3-1 home defeat to ES Setif.