Drama in Malawi, Kotoko lead at midpoint
A furious weekend of activity in Malawi has set up an exciting final day of the championship chase. In Egypt, surprise leaders Haras El Hedoud are still out in front, while Asante Kotoko have the reins in Ghana as many of the top leagues in Africa are on hiatus because of the forthcoming CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt Premier League: Another win for Haras El Hedood
Unfashionable Haras El Hedood won their tenth game of the season with a comprehensive away win over Petrojet to stay ahead in the standings. Seven-time defending champions Al Ahly have moved second, and kept up their unbeaten record in the league, by winning 3-1 at home to Smouha. Zamalek, another of the perennial contenders are third after a 2-0 away win over Al Ittihad.
Big game: An early goal from Ahmed Hassan Mekki set Haras El Hedood on their way to a confidence-building win, although the three points were only secured in the last quarter-hour with goals from Islam Ramadan and Egypt international Ahmed Eid in the last minute. It means the club have won ten of their first 12 matches but face a tough test of their credentials at home to Ismaily on Thursday.
Headline-grabbers: Razak Omotoyossi recently arrived at Zamalek with a massive reputation and went some way to living up to expectations with two goals in an away win in Alexandria. The Benin international has now netted three goals since arriving in Cairo in September. His first came from 25th-minute header and his second 12 minutes from the end when he eluded his marker to strike home a low shot.
Ghana Premier League: Kotoko open up space
Asante Kotoko have suddenly earned a four-point lead as Hearts of Oak faltered at the weekend. Kotoko moved to 31 points at the halfway point of the campaign while Hearts are now tied second with defending champions Berekum Chelsea, who have notched up two victories in a row after snapping a five-match winless steak.
Big game: It was a Valentine’s battle as Hearts of Oak and Heart of Lions met at the Accra Sports Stadium, with both ending up broken-hearted after a stalemate. Emmanuel Annafi got a 70th-minute equaliser for Lions to ensure a 2-2 draw after Hearts of Oak were ahead after just four minutes through Douglas Nkrumah. Benjamin Fadl made it 1-1 by half-time, but Hearts led again for much of the second half after Mahatma Otoo’s 51st-minute strike.
Headline-grabbers: Michael Akuffu and Daniel Adjei got the goals as Kotoko won for the fourth time in their last six games to earn momentum for the second half of the season. Kotoko have not won the league title in the last three seasons, but still hold the record for most number of league trophies: 21, against 19 for Hearts of Oak.
Malawi Super League: End game approaching
ESCOM United did not play at the weekend but watched their closest rivals stumble as Mighty Wanderers dented the chances of second-placed Silver Strikers with a 1-0 away win. However, Wanderers then faltered as well with a draw just 24 hours later to join a cluster of teams in joint second, five points behind ESCOM, who now need only win their last game to become champions.
Big game: A major blow in the title race was struck when Wanderers won 1-0 in Lilongwe on Saturday against Strikers with Anthony Banda scoring. Wanderers, squeezing in two games on their trip to the capital from their base in Blantyre, were then held to a 1-1 draw by EPAC United. Banda scored first with a long-range effort, but EPAC equalised in the second half through Bright Phiri.
Headline-grabbers: Two games in two days is a tough task for any side, but goals in successive days for Banda at a crucial juncture of the season has made his a name to look out for when Malawi take their national team to China for training once the season is over and before the start of 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
Ethiopia Premier League: Four of the best for EEPCO
EEPCO handed a 4-0 defeat to bottom side Air Force and have taken over the leadership of the league from Adama City, who suffered a surprise 2-0 loss at home to Harar Beer – their first of the season. Saint George, seeking a fourth championship in the last five seasons, are five behind.
Big game: Saint George are playing catch up in the league and needed a win at home to mid-table Dedebit to make sure they kept in touch with the leaders. They battled through a 2-1 victory with Adane Girma scoring the winner 15 minutes from the end after Dedebit took a shock first-half lead through Addis Hintsa.
Headline-grabbers: Nigerian Philip Dawzi has been grabbing the headlines with an avalanche of goals as EEPCO have taken the early lead in the championship chase. He had scored nine in seven matches before the weekend’s four-goal thrashing of the airmen.
LDF beat Lioli 1-0 at the weekend to open up a four-point lead in Lesotho. Nigeria have put the league on hold after just one round of the new season because of the labour disputes and strike action across the country. South Africa’s premier league clubs are now back in training after a brief holiday break, but the action does not restart until 15 February.