Pirates, Zamalek advance
Zamalek of Egypt forced a 0-0 draw at Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend to reach the CAF Champions League final qualifying round.
The Cairo club won the last-32 tie 1-0 on goal aggregate and will confront Djoliba of Mali or Saint George of Ethiopia over two legs for a place in the lucrative group phase.
Zamalek have won the premier African club football competition five times and Vita once, and the clash at the 80 000-seat Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa was the highlight of the 16-match schedule.
Vita started slowly in hot conditions before increasing the tempo and struck the woodwork before a brilliant goal-line clearance from Mahmoud Fathallah rescued Zamalek.
The Congolese continued to press after halftime without troubling goalkeeper Abdelwahed Al Sayed too often and Burkina Faso-born Abdoulaye Cisse wasted a late chance for Zamalek.
It was the first serious test of the Egyptians in Africa this season after slamming seven unanswered goals past Gazelle of Chad in a preliminary tie while Vita won home and away against Dynamic of Togo.
Former champions Esperance of Tunisia, Orlando Pirates of South Africa, Kano Pillars of Nigeria, Recreativo Libolo of Angola and Stade Malien of Mali also progressed.
Esperance, winners once and runners-up twice in the past three seasons, had to wait 88 minutes before Khalil Chemmam converted a penalty for a 1-0 win over Angolan visitors Primeiro Agosto – the same score they won by in Luanda.
Pirates, the only South African winners of the Champions League, edged Zanaco of Zambia 2-1 in Soweto after a 1-0 first-leg victory. Mpho Makola snatched a worthy match-winner on 76 minutes off a free kick.
Pillars maintained a record of big home wins and away draws by holding 2012 CAF Confederation Cup title-holders AC Leopards 0-0 in Congo Brazzaville having taken a three-goal advantage into the return match.
Libolo completed a miserable weekend for sides from Sudan by winning 2-1 there against El Merreikh for a 4-2 overall success. Al Hilal were ousted by Sewe San Pedro of Ivory Coast the previous day in another shock.
Morimakan Koita scored on the half-hour mark and Abdoulaye Sissoko midway through the second half as Stade Malien of Mali overcame Casa Sport of Senegal 2-0 in Bamako having also won the first leg.