Nations Cup players Geoffrey Sserunkuma (KCCA), Odongkara (Saint George), Shafik Batambuze (Tusker) leave impact as CAF Club competitions start
Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP |
Football supporters in Indian Ocean island Reunion were celebrating Sunday after a 41-year-old scored to give Saint-Louisienne a shock 2-1 CAF Champions League victory over South African visitors Wits.
Quadragenarian Willy Visnelda converted a stoppage-time penalty in a tiny palm tree-lined stadium to win a preliminary round first leg match in the premier African club competition.
Malawian Frank Mhango held off several challenges to put the Johannesburg club ahead just before half-time and Mauritian Andy Sophie headed the equaliser on the hour.
It was the second time Louisienne have embarrassed South African opponents as they eliminated Mamelodi Sundowns, current holders of the Champions League trophy, 18 years ago.
Losing in Saint-Louis was the latest African disappointment for South African title challengers Wits, who have consistently fared poorly in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt has been accused by the South African media of not taking CAF competitions seriously, a view fuelled by many first choices being rested for African games in the past.
But Hunt seemed excited by a first appearance in the Champions League, especially with increased prize money this year and the group phase being expanded from eight clubs to 16.
Ahead of the flight to Reunion, he spoke about the likelihood of facing record eight-time African champions Al Ahly of Egypt in the round of 32 during March.
To achieve that goal, Wits must eliminate Louisienne and they remain favourites to achieve overall victory as a 1-0 home victory next Saturday will take them through on aggregate.
Louisienne were not the only Indian Ocean island club celebrating as CNaPS Sport of Madagascar edged Township Rollers of Botswana 2-1 in Antananarivo.
All the goals came during the second half with Njiva Rakotoharimalala scoring the 76th-minute winner after Francis Rafaralahy put the hosts ahead and Segolane Boy equalised.
Completing a joyful weekend for island states were Port Louis 2000 of Mauritius, who left Kenya with a 1-1 draw against Tusker, making them slight favourites to progress after the return match.
Shafik Batambuze, part of the Uganda squad at the just completed Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, put the Nairobi outfit ahead in the first half only for Ephrem Guikan to equalise just after half-time.
Cote d’Or of the Seychelles could not match the achievements of other clubs based off the east coast of Africa, losing 2-0 at home to Saint George of Ethiopia, whose goals came from Saladin Said.
Uganda’s KCCA a day earlier beat Primeiro Agostoof Angola 1-0 courtesy of a Godfrey Sserunkuma goal.