Benni the hero, drama in Morocco
Orlando Pirates were crowned South African champions on the final day of the season, retaining their title, while Entente Setif and JSM Bejaia finished one and two in Algeria, and the race in Morocco is down to one vital last game.
South Africa Premier League: Benni the hero
Pirates are champions again, winning the league for a second successive year and again doing it on a drama-filled final day of the season. Pirates had a two-point lead over Moroka Swallows, but were 2-1 down away against Lamontville Golden Arrows before clawing their way back to a 4-2 win. Swallows beat Maritzburg United 1-0 away, but they were in tears at the final whistle when their dreams of a first-ever championship were shattered.
Big game: Pirates took the lead in Durban against Arrows with a diving header from captain Lucky Lekgwathi, but within two minutes they were behind as Arrows scored twice in the space of two minutes through Dillon Sheppard and the former Pirates player Katlego Mashego. But the Buccaneers came back as Siyabonga Sangweni made it 2-2 just before half-time setting the stage for veteran Benni McCarthy, who wrapped up the title with two second-half goals.
Headline-grabbers: At the age of 34, and playing domestically for the first time in more than a decade, McCarthy became a hero this season with ten key league goals. McCarthy has now won a first title at home to add to league success in the past with Ajax Amsterdam and FC Porto
Algeria Ligue 1: Champion party dampened
Entente Setif were crowned champions in midweek, on the penultimate day of the season, but they were denied a chance to celebrate in style in the capital city at the weekend as the season came to a close. They were beaten 2-0 at USM Alger although the win was not enough to ensure the home side the runners-up spot as JSM Bejaia finished second after winning away, and behind closed doors, at MC Saida.
Big game: At the start of the month, USM Alger looked best placed to take the Ligue 1 title, but defeats in key games in recent weeks saw them out of contention on the last day of the campaign. But hosting new champions Entente Setif they did have a chance to restore some pride and a double from Mehdi Benaldjia ensured a 2-0 home win.
Headline-grabbers: JSM Bejaia finished with the same number of points as champions ES Setif and will play in next year’s CAF Champions League again as runners-up. The coastal club ensured they finished second for a second successive season as Redouane Bachiri scored ten minutes from time to ensure a win at relegated MC Saida. “We’ve had some tough times this season but this is the best way we could finish,” said their French coach Alain Michel.
Morocco Botola: Two teams at the wire
It will go down to the finish line on the final day of the season next weekend as both Moghreb Tetouan and FUS Rabat won their second-last game of the Botola campaign and now meet each other in a title decider. Tetouan have a one-point lead as both sides try to win their first league crowns.
Big game: Tetouan won 2-0 at home to relegation-threatened Wydad Fes with goals from Zaid Kerouche in the 48th minute and Abdelkarim Benahia four minutes from the end of a tension-filled match, which marked a fourth successive win for the coastal club and leaves them needing to just draw to become champions.
Headline-grabbers: FUS Rabat needed to win a tough away encounter to keep in the race and will feel they have the advantage now in the battle for league honours as they host Tetouan next Saturday. Badr Kachani scored in the first minute to settle nerves and Adil El Meskini got the all-important second after 20 minutes to set up a dramatic finale.
Angola GiraBola: Champs remain unbeaten
Recreativo Libolo remained unbeaten and have opened up a six-point gap at the top of the standings with one-third of the season now gone. It could yet be an even bigger gap as they have a catch-up match to play on Wednesday. Libolo’s latest success came away at Sporting Cabinda where they won 2-0, but much of the weekend focus centred on the derby in the capital Luanda where Primeiro Agosto defeated Petro Atletico 2-0.
Big game: It is tagged the ‘people’s derby’ even though Primeiro Agosto are the army club and Petro are bankrolled by the country’s massive oil industry. Their meeting in Luanda at the Estadio 11 de Novembro drew an enthusiastic crowd of some 38,000 and saw Primeiro snatch two goals in the last 20 minutes to win and stay third in the table. Their goals came from Mingo Bille and Giresse.
Headline-grabbers: Defending champions Libolo made it ten wins out of 11 as Vado and Rasca scored away for a relatively routine success against struggling Sporting in Cabinda. Next up is a home match with InterClube on Wednesday which could take them to 34 points out of a possible 36. The result left Sporting rooted to the bottom after nine defeats in 11 games
Centre Chiefs’ 3-1 win over Police XI at the weekend ensured for them Botswana’s Premier League title with three games to play. Pamplemousse’s narrow win over Cercle de Joachim sees them ahead in a three-club race going into next weekend’s final round of fixtures in Mauritius. Esperance were held to a surprise draw at home by struggling Beni-Khalled, but they still lead in Tunisia by seven points.