Familiar names grab trophies
There was joy in Côte d’Ivoire for supporters of new champions Africa Sports while Dynamos also finished top of the table in Zimbabwe after grabbing the title on goal difference on the final day of the season. Al Merreikh claimed the league in Sudan with one game still to play, but the title race in Kenya is down to the final week and the wire.
Côte d'Ivoire Super Division: Third time’s a charm
Africa Sports were crowned champions for the third time in the last five years despite their first defeat of the six-team super league. They were beaten 2-1 at home by AFAD Djekanou but because SO Armee also lost, Africa Sports were crowned champions in rather diminished circumstances.
Big game: Africa Sports had an eight-match unbeaten run halted behind closed doors at Abidjan’s Stade Houphouet-Boigny as Djekanou took advantage of sending off of the home goalkeeper Abdul Karim Cisse. Fans and even the president of the club had been banned from watching because of a sanction from the Ivorian federation after previous incidents of violence.
Headline-grabbers: The season will conclude on Wednesday with matches for all six sides in the super division. Djekanou, coached by Cesar Lambert Amani Yao, can finish an unprecedented second if they win at deposed champions ASEC Abidjan. They have 12 points, one ahead of SOA, Stella and Sewe Sport, and two ahead of bottom placed ASEC, who could yet finish as league runners-up.
Zimbabwe Premier League: Number 18 for Dynamos
Dynamos extended their record number of league titles to 18 as they completed the season with a 2-0 win over relegated Kiglon. It means they finished above rookies FC Platinum on goal difference after a spectacular comeback in the closing stages of the season, and marked just a second title in the last decade for the country’s best supported club. FC Platinum finished their campaign with a 3-1 win over Shooting Stars, who were also relegated.
Big game: Dynamos had turned the league campaign on its head with a 1-0 away win over FC Platinum in their penultimate match, leaving them with the routine task of making sure of the title with a home win over Kiglon. A helicopter brought the trophy to the Rufaro Stadium when it became clear they would edge FC Platinum on goal difference. Roderick Mutuma and Guthrie Zhokinyi scored the all-important goals.
Headline-grabbers: Dynamos coach Calistus Pasuwa took over from fellow former international Lloyd Mutsa with 11 games left in the season and engineered a dramatic transformation that led to success in Sunday’s decider. Dynamos lost just once during his tenure, at Masvingo, and drew only once too, at Hwange. The rest were all wins, culminating in the title. Pasuwa's recipe, he said, was making the players believe in their own ability.
Sudan Champions League: Al Merreikh can't be caught
Al Merreikh took their third title in the last decade by making sure that they kept a five-point lead intact going into the final round of the season. A 1-0 win over Al Ahli Khartoum ensured they stayed ahead of perennial arch rival Al Hilal, who won at Jazeereat Al Feel, but now cannot catch their Omdurman-based rivals.
Big game: The task for Al Merreikh was clear as they went into their penultimate match of the season at home, looking to confirm a dominant campaign that had seen them win 23 of their previous 24 games. Match 25 was also turned into a triumph as Ivorian midfielder Remi Adiko scored the only goal of the contest.
Headline-grabbers: Egyptian coach Hossam Badri has now won two titles in the last three seasons in two different countries. He had taken Al Ahly of Egypt to the league in 2010 but left midway through the next campaign after a run of disappointing results. Moving to Sudan at the start of this year he had seen his side romp to the title and further enhanced his own reputation.
Kenya Premier League: Tusker drop vital points
Tusker FC dropped vital points in the league race with a draw at Karuturi Sports at the weekend, but still have a slender one-point lead. Ulinzi Stars can take over the lead if they win tomorrow in a catch-up game against third-placed Sofapaka. Whatever the result, a dramatic finish to the season is guaranteed on Saturday.
Big game: Tusker were three points clear before the weekend, albeit having played one match more. But their hopes were handed a severe blow with Naivasha, where Karuturi held them 1-1 at the Old Trafford Stadium. Tusker had a half-time lead when defender Tom Onyango deflected into his own net a long-range shot from Dennis Mukaisi. But the title chase was turned on its head when Joseph Emeka equalised with just 12 minutes left.
Headline-grabbers: Steven Waruru scored twice and set up another goal as defending champion Ulinzi Stars hammered Chemelil Sugar at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru. Waruru is now top of the league scoring list, but more importantly, has put his team just one point behind leaders Tusker FC but with a game in hand. Tomorrow’s match is against 2009 champions Sofapaka at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium.
Mamelodi Sundowns beat Maritzburg United 1-0 at home to move second in South Africa’s Premier League as the only team in the top six to win at the weekend.
Algerian leaders USM Alger drew 0-0 away at JS Kabylie in the debut of their new French coach Didier Olle-Nicolle to stay two points ahead.
Ghana’s ‘classico’ between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko ended goalless, leaving Kotoko one point ahead in the current standings.