10.08.2020 19:05 h

African leagues: Ahly make winning return, Raja overtake Wydad


Runaway Egypt Premier League leaders Al Ahly relied on full-backs for goals as they beat ENPPI 2-0 at the weekend after being sidelined for 150 days by the coronavirus.

Mohamed Hany and Tunisian Ali Maaloul scored during the second half for the most successful club in Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions with 19 titles.

Ahly have dropped only two points in 18 matches and hold an 18-point advantage over fierce rivals Zamalek, who edged Al Masry 1-0 in the opening match after the suspension was lifted.

Elsewhere, Raja Casablanca went to the top in Morocco, Esperance stayed well clear in Tunisia, and Nkana were crowned Zambian champions for the second time within four days.

With Ahly virtually assured of a record-extending 42nd title, attention will switch to a keenly contested struggle for second place, and a 2020/2021 CAF Champions League slot.

A Zamalek side coached by Frenchman Patrice Carteron are one point ahead of Al Mokawloon Al Arab and two in front of Pyramids FC having played one match less.

At the other end of the table, 2017 runners-up Misr Lel Makkasa rose three places and out of the relegation zone after a 2-1 home victory against Aswan.

Consistent home and away form has enabled three-time African champions Raja to overtake bitter Casablanca rivals Wydad at the top of the Botola Pro 1.

Since football resumed on July 27 Raja have played five matches, winning all three at home and drawing two away outings to build a two-point lead with 10 rounds remaining.

A 2-0 win over lowly Olympic Club Safi was the latest triumph in Casablanca with Abderrahim Achchakir and Soufiane Rahimi netting before half-time.

Foresters have been crowned champions for the first time in the tiny Indian Ocean island nation as rivals La Passe squandered a chance to finish first by drawing 1-1 with Lightstars.

After a 4-2 win over Foresters, La Passe needed maximum points from their final fixture to top the final standings and Brandon Fanchette put them ahead on 65 minutes.

But Mario Ravo, one of numerous Malagasy who play in the Seychelles, levelled 12 minutes from time for Lightstars to leave La Passe without a league title in 12 years.

Treble winners Simba SC triumphed 2-1 at Polisi Morogoro to end the league season with 88 points from 38 matches, 16 points ahead of runners-up and greatest rivals Young Africans.

Dar es Salaam-based Simba also won the pre-season Charity Shield and overcame Namungo 2-1 to hoist the Tanzania FA Cup.

Simba are guided by Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck, whose career has taken another upturn. He was assistant coach of 2017 African champions Cameroon before being fired as coach of Zambia.

Pacesetters Esperance maintained a 12-point lead over second-place CS Sfaxien with eight rounds to go after both drew 0-0 in the Ligue Professionnelle 1.

Four-time African champions Esperance failed to win for only the third time in 18 matches when they dropped points away to mid-table Ben Guerdane.

But Sfaxien surprisingly failed to narrow the gap one day later as second-last CA Bizertin defended resolutely in Mediterranean industrial city Sfax to force a stalemate.

Nkana won the Zambia Super League for the second time in four days as a season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic came to a bizarre end.

Nkana were declared champions a record-extending 13th time last Thursday after finishing one point ahead of Forest Rangers in a campaign trimmed from 34 rounds to 27.

But Rangers then won an appeal against an earlier walkover loss only to see their chances of overtaking Nkana disappear when held 0-0 by Zanaco to finish second on goal difference.