Pirates seize away advantage after Confederation Cup first leg
South African club Orlando Pirates seized a crucial away advantage in the African Confederation Cup play-offs when they triumphed 2-0 against Guineans Kaloum.
Malians Stade Malien, Moroccans Raja Casablanca and Tunisians CS Sfaxien all went on to win their first legs at home by exactly the same score to boost their hopes of making the group phase.
Stade defeated Congolese side AS Vita Club, Raja overcame Tunisians Etoile Du Sahel and Sfaxien proved too powerful for Ivorians ASEC Mimosas in Sfax.
Pirates got off to a great start as Thamsanqa Gabuza scored after five minutes against Kaloum in a match switched from Guinea to Bamako in Mali because of the Ebola epidemic.
It certainly was not the start Frenchman Hugo Cabouret wanted having succeeded sacked Ivorian Francois Zahoui as coach of the Conakry club just two weeks ago.
Goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo, who has become a regular after succeeding their late club captain Senzo Meyiwa last October, foiled several Kaloum attempts to equalise.
New skipper Oupa Manyisa doubled the lead on 74 minutes at Stade Modibo Keita with a volley and the Soweto Buccaneers thwarted the Guinean side as they sought a consolation goal.
This was the third consecutive Confederation Cup away game in which Pirates, the only South African club to be crowned African champions, have scored twice.
The Soweto outfit could even afford the luxury of keeping Kermit Erasmus, scorer of a hat-trick in the previous round against Gabonese Mounana, on the bench for 82 minutes.
Ali Maaloul missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal for three-time Confederation Cup title-holders Sfaxien in their home match against ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast.
Taha Yassine Khenissi claimed the second goal 12 minutes from time, leaving the 1998 African champions ASEC with an uphill task in Abidjan.
Etoile, the 2006 winners and 2008 runners-up in the second-tier Confederation Cup, suffered a first defeat in nine play-off matches since debuting nine years ago, following their 2-0 loss away to Raja Casablanca.
After Abdelkabir El Ouadi and Nigerian Ighodaro Osaguona put Raja two goals ahead by half-time, Youssef Mouihbi fluffed a penalty kick for the Tunisians.
Moctar Mohamed Cisse gave Stade Malien a fourth-minute lead over 2014 African Champions League runners-up AS Vita Club and Ismael Kone doubled the lead midway through the second half.
Egyptians Zamalek fell to a shock 1-0 away loss at Sanga Balende. A 13th-minute goal by Musema Ngowa ended Zamalek's unbeaten run in the competition.
Zamalek had three goals from Ahmed Tawfik, Ahmed Ali and Bassem Morsi disallowed by the referee.
In Sunday's fixtures, current Confederation Cup holders Al Ahly beat Tunisia's Club Africain 2-1 in Cairo.
The Egyptian ginats, who were missing some key players because of injuries and suspensions, had to come from behind to earn the win.
Imed Minyeoui put the visitors ahead but a goal each from Ahmed Abdel-Zaher and Emad Meteb rescued Ahly.
In Rades, Tunisians Esperance thrashed Ghana's Hearts of Oak 4-0.
Samuel Eduok opened the scoring early on and doubled his side's lead after the break to put Esperane firmly in control. Further strikers from Harrison Afful and Ghilane Chaalali have virtually secrued the tie for the Tunisians.
AC Leopards were also handsome winners, easing to a 3-0 victory over Nigerian side Warri Wolves 3-0 in Dolisie, Congo Brazzaville.