Africa roundup: Three-coach Sundowns shocked as season opens

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Star-packed Memelodi Sundowns suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to Bloemfontein Celtic in a knockout competition quarter-final as the South African season kicked off at the weekend.

The Pretoria club replaced coach Pitso Mosimane, who moved to Cairo club Al Ahly, with three, former assistants Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena and new signing Steve Komphela.

But the trio, called the "three wise men" by the South African media, watch helplessly as Celtic avenged a FA Cup final loss at the end of last season.

Here, AFP Sport rounds up football news from Africa.

South Africa

Victor Letsoalo struck on 68 minutes with a header off a free-kick to earn Celtic an MTN8 victory over opponents who signed 13 players during the brief close season.

The other matches went with form as Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United advanced at the expense of Maritzburg United, Cape Town City and TTM respectively.

The best eight finishers in the previous league qualify for the competition that offers only one prize -- eight million rand ($485,000/410,000 euros) to the winners.


Guinean club Horoya will play for the first time since mid-March when they face Egyptian outfit Pyramids Tuesday in a single-match CAF Confederation Cup semi-final in Morocco.

After the coronavirus pandemic halted football in the west African country, Horoya players trained individually, then in groups, but no matches were allowed.

Expensively assembled Pyramids have been much luckier, playing regularly since the Egyptian Premier League season restarted in August.


Algeria have gone 20 matches unbeaten since an away loss to Benin in October 2018, and the outstanding run has led several top nations to inquire about possible friendly matches.

An Algerian Football Federation (FAF) spokesman said in a radio interview that Belgium, Croatia and the Netherlands have shown interest in playing the African champions.

In a FIFA window this month, Algeria defeated Nigeria 1-0 and drew 2-2 with Mexico despite having Adlene Guedioura sent off 10 minutes into the second half.


Ghana midfielder Bernard Mensah has tested positive for Covid-19 after returning to Turkish club Besiktas from international duty with the four-time African champions.

The star, who celebrated his 26th birthday last Saturday, played in Portugal and Spain before joining his current club from another Turkish team, Kayserispor.

Ghana experienced lows and highs in Turkish resort city Antalya during the FIFA window, crashing 3-0 to Mali and trouncing 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar 5-1.


Al Mokawloon, formerly called Arab Contractors, have sealed fourth place in the Egyptian Premier League and qualification for the CAF Confederation Cup despite losing 2-0 to ENPPI.

Smouha squandered a chance of overtaking Mokawloon after drawing 0-0 away to mid-table Misr Lel Makkasa in the penultimate round.

Cairo-based Mokawloon will return after a 15-year absence to the Confederation Cup, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.


Ice cream company club Azam scored twice within two minutes to clinch a 3-0 home win over mid-table Mwadui that took them five points clear at the top of the Tanzanian Premier League.

Zambian Aubrey Chirwa netted midway through the first half and completed the scoring on 63 minutes after Zimbabwean Prince Dube struck the second goal.

Azam have a maximum 18 points from six matches in the 18-club championship, five more than perennial title challengers Simba and Young Africans.


Al Merrikh joined Al Hilal at the top of the table with three rounds remaining in a thrilling Sudan Premier League title race by hammering fourth-place Al Amal Atbara 3-0.

While Merrikh were cruising to maximum points, twice CAF Champions League runners-up Hilal dropped two when drawing 1-1 with third-place Hilal el Obied.

Either Merrikh or Hilal have been crowned Sudanese champions each season since 1992, when Al Hilal Port Sudan topped the standings.