Cameroon and South Africa were left with no representation in the 2015 Orange CAF Champions League after their torchbearers were eliminated at the weekend.
The four representatives, Coton Sport and Cosmos de Bafia for Cameroon and South African champions, Mamelodi Sundowns and fellows Kaizer Chiefs were amongst the major casualties of the 1/16th round of the premier continental club championship.
Incidentally, the quartet lost in the away legs this weekend with 10-man Coton Sport going down 2-0 to Sanga Balende in Kinshasa with both goals coming late after Joel Eric Ntieche was sent off for a second yellow card on 79 minutes. Kabamba Mukundi scored the opener on 80 minutes before Badibake Mpongo wrapped up victory six minutes later for a place at the next round 4-0 on aggregate.
It was the quickest continental campaigns for Coton Sport, losing finalists in 2007, since when they were bundled out at the preliminary stage by Renaissance FC of Chad.
Fellows Cosmos de Bafia failed to take advantage of an early lead against Esperance in Rades after Ghilaner Chalali had diverted the ball into his own net after 28 minutes. However, two quick penalties for the ‘Blood and Gold, both converted by Cameroon-import Yannick N’Djeng on 32 minutes and 44 minutes gave the hosts a 2-1 lead at the break. Chalali made amends for his earlier blunder with the insurance goal on 67 minutes and take his side through 4-1 on aggregate.
“Our goal was to win and ensure our qualification to the next round, and we managed to achieve it. I can only congratulate my players and the whole team for their efforts and done. It was not an easy game to play,” said Esperance coach Jose de Morais.
In Lubumbashi, TP Mazembe avenged for the painful exit at the expense of Orlando Pirates two years ago, with a 3-1 win over another South African side, Mamelodi Sundowns. Rainford Kalaba, Mbwana Samatta and new recruit Roger Assale put the DR Congo champions on the path of victory before Percy Tau grabbed a consolation five minutes from time.
A second half brace from Christian Osagouna was all Raja Athletic Club of Morocco needed to send Kaizer Chiefs packing out of Casablanca empty. Raja progressed 3-0 on aggregate.
Nigeria find themselves in the same situation after their ambassadors Kano Pillars and two-time winners, Enyimba also bade farewell. Enyimba, who finished with a man-less after Kingsley Sokari was sent off on 70 minutes went down to a shocking 2-0 to Egyptian newcomers, Smouha in Alexandria. Late strikes from experienced forward Mohamed Shaban and Hermann Koua was enough for hosts to cancel a 1-0 loss from the first leg.
Earlier on Saturday, champions Kano Pillars was booted out despite a 2-1 win over Moghreb Tetouane. The Moroccans went up on 33 minutes through dangerman, Mouhcine Iajour, his fourth goal in the two legs, and stun the home crowd in the northern Nigeria city of Kano. A spirited second half performance by the hosts saw Tony Edjomareigwe level on 61 minutes before fans’ favourite, Rabiu Ali snatched a later winner, which only served academic purpose as the visitors went through 5-2 on aggregate.
Ghana’s Asante Kotoko yet again failed at the door step of yet another North African opponent after MC Eulma beat them 2-1 in Kumasi and via the same on aggregate. MC Eulma was third Algerian club to reach the 1/8th round joining fellows ES Setif and USM Alger, which sealed their places earlier on Friday.
Holders ES Setif needed a 2-0 win over Real Banjul of Gambia in the encounter held in the northeastern city of Setif, whilst a one-all draw in Dakar against Senegal champions, AS Pikine was just enough to see USM Alger book their place at the next round.
After a one-all draw in the first leg in Banjul a fortnight ago, midfielder Toufik Zerara and defender Farid Mellouli scored in either halve to ensure the ‘Black Eagles’ remain on course for a successful defence courtesy a 3-1 aggregate win.
At the Demba Diop Stadium, Hamza Koudri equalized for USM Alger on 79 minutes canceling out El Hadji Alioune Sow’s 26th minute opener. The ‘Red and Black’ went through 6-2 on aggregate.
AC Leopards completed a double over Kenyan champions, GorMahia thanks to a Cesair Gandze lone goal strike in Dolisie.
Record winners, Al Ahly sailed through smoothly to the last 16 of the 2015 Orange CAF Champions League, after a convincing 2-0 win over APR of Rwanda on Saturday in Cairo.
New recruit, Moamen Zakaria, scored in both halves to ensure victory for the Egyptian giants, his first since joining the Red Devils from bitterest rivals, Zamalek and wrap up a 4-0 aggregate win. Zakaria headed home the opener after 28 minutes before scoring the second from a rebound three minutes from recess.
Ahly, eight-time winners of the premier continental club championship will face Moroccan champions, Moghreb Tetouane at the next round.
For the first time in as many years, Sudanese giants, El Merreikh have reached the third stage despite suffering a 2-1 loss to Angolan big spenders, Kabuscorp in Luanda. Former TP Mazembe talisman, Tresor Mputu Mabi fired the hosts into the lead after five minutes and Bakri Babiker restored parity on 76 minutes, which proved vital for the Omdurman-based club. Four minutes later, Kabuscorp right back Issam Mpeko was sent off after a second yellow card before ex-Cameroon forward Albert Meyong Ze notched home the winner on 83 minutes. The Sudanese side progressed 3-2 on aggregate.
At the Modibo Keita Stadium in Bamako, Stade Malien came from behind to beat Mangasport of Gabon 2-1 to complete a double and advance 5-2 on aggregate. Mangasport captain N’Goran Kouassi Nicaisse put the visitors’ noses in front after only five minutes and Mamadou Coulibaly leveled on 20 minutes before Souleymane Traore scored the winner four minutes later.
Friday, 3 April 2015
AS Pikine (Senegal) 1-1 USM Alger (Algeria) 1-5
ES Setif (Algeria) 2-0 Real Banjul (Gambia) 1-1
Saturday, 4 April 2015
Kabuscorp (Angola) 2-1 El Merreikh (Sudan) 0-2
Al Ahly (Egypt) 2-0 APR (Rwanda) 2-0
Kano Pillars (Nigeria) 2-1 Moghreb Tetouane (Morocco) 0-4
Stade Malien (Mali) 2-1 Mangasport (Gabon) 3-1
Sunday, 5 April 2015
AS Kaloum (Guinea) 1-1 (5-4pen) Zesco United (Zambia) 1-1
Big Bullets (Malawi) 1-1 El Hilal (Sudan) 0-4
Sanga Balende (DR Congo) 2-0 Coton Sport (Cameroon) 0-0
Esperance (Tunisia) 3-1 Cosmos de Bafia (Cameroon) 1-0
CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) 1-0 Semassi (Togo) 5-0
Asante Kotoko (Ghana) 1-2 MC Eulma (Algeria) 0-0
Smouha (Egypt) 2-0 Enyimba (Nigeria) 0-1
AC Leopards (Congo) 1-0 Gor Mahia (Kenya) 1-0
Raja Athletic Club (Morocco) 2-0 Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa) 1-0
TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 3-1 Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 0-1

READ ALSO  Hopeful Golden Eaglets fly out