MIXED FORTUNES FOR NIGERIAN CHALLENGERS
Sunshine Stars triumphed and Kaduna United drew as the Nigerian clubs made CAF Confederation Cup group-phase debuts this weekend. Dayo Ojo put Stars ahead against vastly experienced Daring Club Motema Pembe of Congo DR midway through the second half in south-west town of Ijebu Ode, before Ajani Ibrahim added a late goal for a 2-0 win.
Kaduna also appeared on track for maximum points when Ali Adamu gave them a second-half lead in the northern city, only for recent signing Patrick Lembo to equalise in stoppage time and earn Angolan police team InterClube a 1-1 draw.
Chemseddine Chetaibi struck five minutes from full-time to give Moghreb Fes of Morocco a 1-0 home success over Algerian visitors JS Kabylie, one of three former African champions among the eight contenders.
The other two - ASEC Mimosas of CÃ´te d'Ivoire and Club Africain of Tunisia - play in Abidjan later on Sunday to complete the opening-round fixtures in the second-tier African club championship. Victory for either team will lift them above Kaduna and InterClube to the top of Group A, while Sunshine lead Moghreb on goal difference in Group B after they secured three points each.
A defence marshalled by captain Godfrey Aboabona kept 1994 CAF Cup Winners' Cup winners Motema Pembe in check while Ukeyima Akombo and Ibrahim constantly threatened to break the deadlock at the other end.
Dele Olundare replaced Sakibu Atanda at half-time and he applied additional pressure to a Pembe defence that cracked on 69 minutes when a 25-yard Ojo drive found the net. Goalkeeper Sunday Ocheje thwarted several attempts by the Kinshasa club to level before Ibrahim sealed the outcome on 90 minutes when he punished a defensive blunder by heading home.
Belgium-born coach Maurice Cooreman is standing by his pre-match boast that Kaduna will become the first Nigerian winners of the competition despite dropping two points at the Township Stadium. 'I have a young team and inexperience let us down in the closing stages, but I still believe Kaduna are good enough to lift the trophy,' he told reporters as preparations began for an end-of-month visit to Club Africain.
Kabylie had midfielder Billel Naili sent off 10 minutes into the second half in Fes and were undone when Chetaibi scored his first goal in the competition this season with a perfectly placed header.