Plot thickens in South Africa, Morocco
South African Premier League: Pirates fail to take advantage
Mamelodi Sundowns suffered a second surprise defeat inside five days as they lost to Maritzburg United, but Orlando Pirates were unable to take full advantage as they were held at home just a few hours later by Wits. It means the defending champions lead Sundowns by two points with four games to go. SuperSport United are also back in the race after a 2-1 win over Ajax Cape Town lifted them to third in the standings, three points off the pace.
Big game: Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens had criticised Maritzburg’s German boss Ernst Middendorp after the two clubs met in cup action earlier this month for “parking the bus in front of the goal”, a reference to Maritzburg’s defensive attitude. But Middendorp had the last laugh after his side caught Sundowns with a swift counter attack late on in this most recent encounter to win 1-0 with the goal from recent signing Cuthbert Malajila.
Headline-grabbers: Kaizer Chiefs are on the slide. Since sacking Serbian coach Vladimir Vermezovic, they have lost all three games and have tumbled down to sixth place. Mathematically, the country’s best supported club could still take the league title, but after losing 2-1 away to Santos in Cape Town, they have all but admitted they are out of the race. It was a dream start for new Santos boss Mart Nooij, the former Mozambique national team coach, brought in to save the side with five matches to go.
Ghana Premier League: Kotoko one point from glory
Asante Kotoko are one point away from a runaway league success this season as they look sure to extend their record number of triumphs to 22 titles in the half-century of the league’s history. A 2-0 win over Mighty Jets away in Accra took Kotoko to 55 points and extended their unbeaten run to 13 places. Their closest challengers AshantiGold and Hearts of Oak both drew.
Big game: After their recent CAF Champions League heroics, Berekum Chelsea were hoping for a last tilt at defending their title, but it all ended ignominiously at Tema Youth. Chelsea, who eliminated former continental champions Raja Casablanca earlier this month on the continent, lost 3-1 to Tema and can no longer catch up to Kotoko. Isaac Amoah gave Tema the lead but Chelsea equalised through Joseph Ato-Bissah by half-time. Daniel Appiah and Amoah made sure of a home triumph after the break.
Headline-grabbers: Almost two years after a horrific leg break, Gideon Baah has overcome the injury, and he was on the score sheet for Kotoko as they beat Mighty Jets. The left back scored a poignant goal in the 87th minute to secure the win after Daniel Nii Adjei had given them the lead eight minutes before half-time.
Kenya Premier League: Leopards lose their spots
AFC Leopards lost for the first time this season as champions Tusker FC beat them away to close to within four points of the lead after the first 11 rounds of the campaign. Chemelil are just one point further back from Tusker after being held by second-from-bottom Nairobi City Stars.
Big game: Nairobi-based Leopards moved their match with the champions to the coastal city of Mombasa, but it backfired as Tusker proved the more comfortable of the two sides in the unfamiliar humid conditions. Defender Brian Mandela scored just before the hour mark from a corner and the second goal for the brewery side came from a throw-in by Luke Ochieng that Leopards goalkeeper Patrick Matasi fumbled into his own net.
Headline-grabbers: Last season’s top scorer Stephen Waruru was the author of the only goal as Ulinzi Stars beat Gor Mahia 1-0. It was his first of the season after the 12 he bagged last year. It was also only the fourth win of the season for the army club, who moved up to eighth place in the 16-team table. Gor have now lost five of their 11 games and are just narrowly above the relegation zone.
Morocco Bolotola: Dramatic Monday in Morocco
FUS Rabat’s long tenure at the top ended on Monday as they drew away at Ittihad Khemisset, the scoreless match marking their first point in the Botola this month after a run of just two wins in their last 10 league matches has allowed the chasing pack to catch up. The draw meant that whichever club won the day's later contest between second-placed Moghreb Tetouan and third-placed Raja Casablanca would have taken over top spot, and the laurels surprisingly went to Tetouan in Casablanca.
Big game: It took 92 minutes to separate Tetouan and Raja before Ziad Karouch found a goal just minutes after Raja were reduced to ten men. The scoring wasn't over however as a hacking foul allowed a second tally four minutes into time added on from a spot kick, gleefully taken for a famous win for the provincial side.
Headline-grabbers: FUS were seven points clear just a few weeks ago and headed for a first-ever title. In their collapse, they might yet come to rue a missed penalty from Mohamed El Amine Bakkali just eight minutes from the end of the game at Khemisset.
Petro Atletico beat Atletico Namibie to regain top place in Angola’s GiraBola by one point from champions Recreativo Libolo.
Esperance are now seven points clear in Tunisia’s Ligue 1 after previously high flying second-placed CA Bizertin lost for a second successive week.
Leaders Coton Sport were held to a draw at relegation-threatened Njalla Quan and have had their lead in Cameroon’s Elite One cut to a single point.