Good weekend for familiar faces
It was a good weekend in African club football for some well-known figures, but a few new faces were not to be outdone. South Africa veteran Benni McCarthy scored a top-drawer winner for Orlando Pirates, although leaders Mamelodi Sundowns still have a three-point advantage. Giants Asante Kotoko lead by six in Ghana, while Enugu Rangers have taken over leadership in Nigeria with a slender one-point gap between them and a considerable chasing pack.
Nigeria Premier League: Dolphin proves bait for Sharks
Dolphin’s defence of their title had got off to a blistering start, but they suffered a third defeat of the season at the weekend in going 3-1 down to struggling Sharks. Dolphin have a handy record of five wins from their opening eight games of the new season but are still four points behind leaders Enugu Rangers, who have played two matches more.
Big game: Sharks moved out of the relegation zone with victory in the derby in Port Harcourt. Bright Ejike got an early penalty to put Sharks ahead and Kola Anubi added a second 12 minutes later to threaten a runaway triumph. However, Dolphin looked the better side by half-time and got a deserved goal back through Hassan Hussein. A second penalty late in the game, this time to Sharks and converted by ThankGod Amaefule, made sure of the win for the home side though.
Headline-grabbers: Daniel Etor proved the lone goal scorer for Tornadoes at home in Minna against newly promoted Rising Stars, who won over the neutrals with a gutsy showing. Etor warned that the southern Nigerian club could prove troublesome for many in the league this season. “[Rising Stars] surprised us with their resolve to win,” he told reporters after the narrow home victory for the eighth placed side.
South Africa Premier League: Top eight struggle
Of the top eight sides in the Premiership standings, only champions Orlando Pirates managed to register a win at the weekend, as their fellow challengers all slipped up. A narrow 1-0 triumph over Maritzburg United moves Pirates alongside their long-standing rivals Kaizer Chiefs in second place. They both trail Mamelodi Sundowns by three-points at the top of the standings, despite drawing their last two games.
Big game: Mamelodi Sundowns have had the chance to open up a significant lead, but two draws have allowed the trailing pack to haul them back to within just a single win of them. Sundowns had the better of the chances away against Moroka Swallows but let a 2-1 lead slip to share the spoils. Coach Johan Neeskens looked irritated but has since insisted his charges are still on course for success.
Headline-grabbers: Iconic striker Benni McCarthy was the big name signing in the off-season for Pirates, but he is still battling with his fitness and has been used in recent games as a second-half impact player. The fans were chanting his name before he came on against Maritzburg and he delivered a response in spectacular fashion, settling the gritty match with a stunning an overhead kick from a corner for the game's only goal.
Tunisia Ligue 1: Bizertin’s flying form continues
CA Bizertin continued their fine run with a 3-0 away win at struggling AS Gabes to go four points clear at the head of the standings. AS Marsa is the closest challenger, and there are a trio of teams a further four points back. Continental champions Esperance are nine off the pace but have two matches in hand, having not played in the league at the weekend, going down instead on penalties in the African Super Cup against Maghreb Fes of Morocco.
Big game: Two first half goals from the fragile-looking but industrious Nour Hadhria, and a second half effort from Yassine Salhi saw Bizertin cruise to a comfortable win at the Stade Bouchama in Gabes. It might be too early for them to be thinking about title success but they will be reminded over again in the next weeks that Bizertin’s only previous championship was way back in 1984. Gabes’ continued winless start to the season came at a cost to Swiss coach Cristian Zermattan, who was dismissed following the defeat.
Headline-grabbers: US Monastir’s Nigerian striker Onuoha Ogbonna took just ten minutes to score at home against Club Africain, taking his tally to four goals in seven matches. This one was important as USM made it hold up to move away from the relegation zone, and Club Africain suffered a first defeat of the season.
Ghana Premier League: Kotoko in clear lead
Asante Kotoko are now six points clear two matches into the second half of the season. A 2-0 win over Liberty Professionals pushed Kotoko to 37 points while Hearts of Oak in second were held to a draw at home by Bechem United. Berekum Arsenal defeated Berekum Chelsea 1-0 to send the defending champions tumbling down into sixth place.
Big game: Daniel Nii Adjei and Michael Mensah scored the second half goals in another convincing performance by Kotoko at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi. League success is now shaping into a reality for coach Maxwell Konadu. “We are on the right path," he said. "Now we just have to do a little more work to get there.".
Headline-grabbers: Albert Gaisie has taken All Stars to heights never obtained before as he scored in the last minute to hand a 1-0 win to his club over Aduana Stars. All Stars are now up to third in the standings and can go second in midweek if they beat Berekum Chelsea and Hearts falter.
FUS Rabat conceded a last-minute goal away at DH El Jadida to draw 1-1 but still lead the standings in Morocco.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw at ECCO City Greens in Francistown but retain a six-point lead in Botswana.
Coton Sport remain the only unbeaten side in the Cameroon Elite One, and they have a one point lead over their rivals after six matches.