Giants Raja Casablanca, Club Africain in CAF Cup danger
African giants Raja Casablanca of Morocco and Club Africain of Tunisia -- clubs expected to go far in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup -- are in trouble after their first matches on Tuesday.
Three-time African champions Raja missed a penalty and conceded a late goal to only draw 1-1 at home against Nouadhibou of Mauritania in a last-32 first leg.
Club Africain fell 3-1 away to Renaissance Berkane of Morocco and the result was nearly worse for the visitors as they scored two minutes into stoppage time.
On a night of upsets, SuperSport United shrugged off disastrous domestic form to force a 0-0 draw at Petro Atletico of Angola, who hit five in their previous CAF home match.
Rookies La Mancha of Congo Brazzaville exceeded expectations by thrashing vastly experienced Al Ahly Shendy of Sudan 3-0 through a late scoring burst.
Other minnows to achieve more than anticipated were Deportivo Niefang of Equatorial Guinea, who came from behind to hold Daring Club Motema Pembe 1-1 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The only result that went with form was Belouizdad of Algeria turning on the heat in the second half to triumph 3-0 at home against Nkana of Zambia.
Morocco trounced Mauritania 4-0 in the 2018 African Nations Championship opener two months ago and a similar scoreline was expected in favour of Raja.
But the hosts could not break down the Nouadhibou defence and when they were awarded a penalty just before half-time, Abderrahim Achchakir had his kick saved.
The Moroccan club finally broke the deadlock on 70 minutes when young substitute Mohamed Khaldane finished off a Mahmoud Benhalib cross.
A mistake by Ayoub Joulale gifted Samba el Voullany an equaliser eight minutes later and the outsiders will be dreaming of claiming another prized scalp when the clubs meet again in mid March.
Nouadhibou upset three-time CAF title winners Africa Sports of the Ivory Coast in the preliminary round by winning 1-0 at home after drawing away.
Former African champions Club Africain, who reached the Confederation Cup semi-finals last year, fell three goals behind with 14 minutes remaining.
Mohamed Aziz and Togolese Fo Doh Laba scored in the opening half and Lahcen Khamiss added a third Berkane goal in northeastern Morocco.
Veteran Saber Khalifa reduced the arrears two minutes into additional time when he converted a penalty and set up an intriguing return match in Tunis next weekend.
Having won just three of their last 20 matches, 2017 Confederation Cup runners-up SuperSport United must have feared the worst when they faced Petro in Luanda.
The disastrous run of results by the Pretoria club triggered the departure of coach Eric Tinkler at the weekend with Zimbabwe-born assistant Kaitano Tembo taking temporary charge.
SuperSport held their own despite giving several young fringe players starting places, but were lucky when Tresor de Sousa was foiled by the woodwork.
Goals from Komlan Agbodo and Emmanuel Milandou during the final 10 minutes stretched a slender lead into a convincing victory for La Mancha in Atlantic city Pointe-Noire.
After Samu Tshibamba put 1994 African Cup Winners Cup title-holders Motema Pembe ahead in Kinshasa, Niefang responded by levelling through Zumano Sidibe before half-time.
Mohamed Belkablia scored in the opening minute of the second half for Belouizdad and further goals from Mokhtar Lamhene and Zakaria Draoui left Nkana with little hope of survival.