JOHANNESBURG: Al-Ahly made a poor start in pursuit of a record third consecutive CAF Champions League title when they slumped 1-0 at Young Africans this weekend.
A Nadir Haroub header eight minutes from time at the national stadium in Dar es Salaam settled the clash of the Tanzanian and Egyptian clubs.
Success was particularly sweet for ‘Yanga’ as they had lost four and drawn two of six previous African matches against the Cairo ‘Red Devils’.
Young Africans, guided by veteran Dutch coach Hans van der Pluijm, were worthy winners having had the edge for most of the first round, first leg qualifier.
Leading 2014 Champions League scorer Mrisho Ngasa and Ugandans Emmanuel Okwi and Hamis Kiiza constantly troubled the Egyptian defense.
And as time ticked away in the Indian Ocean city, Haroub nodded a cross past goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami for a slender advantage ahead of the March 9 return game.
Ahly came agonizingly close to three consecutive titles in 2007, surprisingly losing at home to Tunisians Etoile Sahel in the final after a goalless first leg.
The recent retirements of midfield maestros Mohamed Abou Trika and Mohamed Barakat were major blows to a club that has captured 18 CAF titles, including the Champions League eight times.
However, the ‘Devils’ travelled south to Tanzania in good spirits having shrugged off poor domestic form to defeat Tunisians CS Sfaxien for a record-extending sixth CAF Super Cup triumph.
Cairo neighbors Zamalek, whose five titles is the second best Champions League record, edged Angolan visitors Kabuscorp 1-0 through a Mahmoud Fathallah goal.
The 56th-minute match-winner was meager reward for the ‘White Knights’, the dominant team for long periods against sluggish opponents who arrived only 24 hours before the match.
Tunisians Esperance, champions once, runners-up twice and semi-finalists once in the past four editions, all but secured a last-16 place after winning 3-2 away to Kenyans Gor Mahia.
A see-saw Nairobi struggle saw Gor lead, trail and equalize before substitute Haythem Jouini grabbed the winning goal one minute from time.
Ugandan Dan Sserenkuma converted an early penalty only for the ‘Bood and Gold’ to retaliate through goals from Ahmed Akaichi and Cameroonian Yannick N’Djeng either side of half-time.
Harun Chavaka leveled 13 minutes from time for Gor, who are coached by Scotland-born former Uganda handler Bobby Williamson.
But an unhappy outing for Gor goalkeeper-captain Jerim Onyango was completed when he reacted slowly to a rebound and Jounini made no mistake.
Zambians Nkana and Ugandans KCCA drew 2-2 in a Kitwe thriller that included the home side fluffing a penalty and the visitors reduced to 10 men.
After falling behind to a Tony Odur goal, 1990 runners-up Nkana had a spot-kick saved before Ronald Kampamba and Shadreck Musonda goals nudged them ahead.
But the Ugandans overcame the red-carding of Tom Masiko to level on 80 minutes when Brian Majwega slotted a penalty into the net.
South Africans Kaizer Chiefs overwhelmed Mozambicans Liga Muculmana 4-0 in Durban through goals from Knowledge Musona, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Matthew Rusike and Eric Mathoho.
Cameroonians Coton Sport, penalty shootout losers to Ahly in the semi-finals last season, lost 1-0 at Burundians Flambeau de l’Est with Hussein Shabani scoring on four minutes.
Democratic Republic of Congo outfit Vita forced a 0-0 draw at Zimbabweans Dynamos and there was a similar outcome between Malians Stade Malien and Sudanese Al-Hilal.