Leopards' CAF run continues

2012-03-25 14:48

Johannesburg - The fairytale CAF Confederation Cup run of South African club Black Leopards continued this weekend with a 4-2 home win over St Eloi Lupopo from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dreadlocked centre-back Humphrey Khoza expanded his football skills beyond defending by scoring twice and Nigerian Joshua Obaje and Thomas Madimba were also on target for the north-east club who led 3-1 at half-time.

Spaniard Alexandru Oprica and Munganga Djunga netted for Lupopo from mining hub Lubumbashi, who have been regular African campaigners since 1969 while Leopards are participating for the first time this year.

Obaje also had a goal mysteriously disallowed by the Zambian referee during first half stoppage time in Giyani, a town close to the world famous Kruger National Park game reserve.

Leopards upset Motor Action of Zimbabwe in the preliminary round by winning 2-0 away after being held at home and now have a realistic chance of making the last 16 after the early April return match.

It was the seventh fixture within 21 days for the South Africans, promoted this season and battling against relegation, but they ran the Congolese ragged at times on a hot afternoon made slightly more bearable by overcast, windy weather.

While Khoza demonstrated his prowess at set pieces by twice netting with near-post headers off corners, the best goal of a lively game came from wide midfielder Oprica with an elegant side-footed shot into the roof the net.

Other preliminary round giant-killers Kallon FC of Sierra Leone and Royal Leopard of Swaziland were less successful and had to settle for draws at home, and face tough second-leg tasks.

Former Monaco and Inter Milan star Mohamed Kallon owns and plays for Kallon FC, who drew 0-0 in Freetown with Warri Wolves, a Nigerian outfit including national squad goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim and midfielder Sunday Mba.

Lokinga Lomboto gave DR Congo outfit US Tshinkunku the lead over Royal Leopard in Manzini and Juries Gama levelled for the police club, who eliminated Zambian air force side Red Arrows in the previous round.

Tunisian team Club Africain, runners-up last year behind Moghreb Fes of Morocco in the second-tier Confederation Cup, held Saint George 1-1 in Ethiopia with Hamza Messaadi equalising after Shimeles Bekele broke the deadlock.

Moghreb are competing in the richer and more prestigious CAF Champions League this year, leaving Wydad Casablanca and CODM Meknes to represent Morocco and both title challengers began with away victories.

Goals from Ibrahima Souri and Salaheddine Khlifi earned Meknes a 2-0 win over Sequence FC in Guinea while Congo Brazzaville-born Lys Mouithys and Mouhcine Iajour netted as Wydad won by a similar score at Invincible XI of Liberia.

Former African champions ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast led and trailed during a thrilling 2-2 draw at Etoile Filante of Burkina Faso and Heartland of Nigeria forced a goalless stalemate with US Haut Nkam in Cameroon port Douala.