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Group stage kicks off with history
June 21 2016

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Travelling teams enjoyed most of the success in this weekend's first matchday in the group stage of the CAF Champions League, including history made by Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca. The 'Brazilians of South Africa' won their first match in their history in north Africa, while the Moroccans, who won the tournament in 1992 and were runners-up in 2011, won their first-ever away match on the pitch in the competition. The third away win of the weekend belonged to Egyptian club Zamalek, who triumphed in Nigeria. The only home side that secured a victory was Zambian team ZESCO United, who managed a pretty big scalp. Fifa 17 points

Match of the week
ZESCO United 3-2 Al Ahly
Although eight-time champions Al Ahly have yet to register a win in continental competitions in Zambia, the Group A result will still be considered a shock, especially as they managed to score their first-ever goals in the southern African country. Al Ahly coach Martin Jol attempted to thwart the ZESCO attack with a compact defensive midfield, but the home side still had more of the game. They went ahead through John Chingandu, whose speculative shot from the edge of the area found the back of the net in the first half. However, the visitors were level before the break through Ghanaian striker John Antwi. Clatous Chama then scored twice in the space of a few minutes before Antwi pulled one back for the Cairo giants. The defeat was Al Ahly's first in a Champions League group-stage opener since 2006.

Other matches
In the other Group A match, Wydad secured a 1-0 victory in Abidjan against ASEC Mimosas. Salaheddine Saidi scored the only goal of the game for John Toshack's side, who had never won away from home in the Champions League before, although they were awarded a 2-0 result in 1987 after Mauritanian club ASC Police were disqualified. The win takes their away record in the competition to 25 matches played, with one win, eight draws and 16 defeats.

In Group B, South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns made the most of a lifeline thrown them as they secured an unexpected 2-0 victory in Algeria against 2014 champions ES Setif. Sundowns, who were reinstated into the competition after AS Vita Club were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, secured their first victory in all continental competitions in North Africa through goals by Tiyani Mabunda and Khama Billiat. The two-goal victory sees them top the group ahead of Cairo giants Zamalek. The White Knights, who travelled to Port Harcourt for their game against Enyimba without international Mahmoud Shikabala Fadlallah and Ayman Hefny, had Bassim Morsey to thank for the victory. The striker scored early on, and although the People's Elephant then threw everything forward, they could not find an equaliser.

Player of the week
Defensive midfielder Salaheddine Saidi is not exactly a player who scores many goals and the times the Moroccan international has managed to get his name on the score sheet are far and few between. But the 29-year-old proved to be the match winner on the weekend as Wydad Casablanca, who entered the competition on the back of winning the 2014/5 Botola, got their group phase campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory in Abidjan against ASEC Mimosas.

The stat
2 – The number of goals that Cairo giants Al Ahly have managed to score in seven matches in Zambia, both of which came at Zesco in defeat. Ahly's record in Zambia now reads: zero wins, two draws and five defeats, with two goals for and seven against.

What they said
"We started the game very badly, but we managed to get back into it. We faced a well-organised team, but to lose the first game in the group stage is not good, so we have to recover quickly. We know the competition is tough in the Champions League, though the loss is not the end," Al Ahly coach Martin Jol.

Have your say
Can Wydad Casablanca become the first team from Morocco to lift the trophy since 1999. Since then, Raja Casablanca lost the 2002 final against Zamalek, while Wydad were beaten in the 2011 final by Tunisian club Esperance.

 


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