African leagues: Esperance retain Tunisian title


Johannesburg (AFP) – Four-time African champions Esperance won a fourth straight Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1 title at the weekend despite only drawing 1-1 at home to mid-table Chebba.  

The ‘Blood and Gold’ are nine points ahead of closest rivals CS Sfaxien with three rounds remaining and clinched first place on head-to-head records.

Esperance secured four points from two matches against Sfaxien this season by winning 2-0 away and drawing 0-0 at home. 

Meanwhile, runaway leaders Al Ahly won 2-0 at lowly Al Masry 2-0 to stay on course for a record-extending 42nd Egyptian Premier League title.

In South Africa, Kaizer Chiefs clung to first place despite a 1-0 defeat by Bidvest Wits because closest challengers Mamelodi Sundowns suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Baroka.

TUNISIA

Esperance had to come from behind to collect the title-clinching point with Algerian Abdelkader Bedrane cancelling the lead Abdessalam Jilani gave Chebba. 

The result maintained the unbeaten record this season of the 30-time Tunisian champions, who have won 16 matches and drawn seven with a 38-11 goal record.

Success sealed a place in the 2020/2021 CAF Champions League for Esperance and Sfaxien hold a five-point advantage in the race to be the other Tunisian representatives.

Sfaxien edged nine-time African title winners Etoile Sahel 2-1 with one of their goals coming from Nigerian Kingsley Sokari.

EGYPT

Senegalese Aliou Badji and Hamdy Fathy scored early second-half goals to give Ahly victory over Masry and retention of a 17-point lead in the Egyptian Premier League.

Pyramids and Zamalek are separated only by goal difference in the contest for second place and a Champions League place.

Mohamed el Gabbas netted in the second minute of stoppage time to snatch a 2-1 victory for the Emirati-bankrolled Pyramids over Aswan.

Mohamed Hamdy struck midway through the second half for five-time African champions Zamalek in a 1-0 home win over ENPPI.

SOUTH AFRICA

Chiefs play bottom-half clubs Chippa United and Baroka in the South African Absa Premiership this week knowing two victories should end a five-year wait for silverware.

Defending champions Sundowns can match the 59-point target of Chiefs by beating strugglers Polokwane City and Black Leopards, but have an inferior goal difference.  

In South Africa, goals difference is the first tie-breaker, followed by goals scored, and Chiefs have distinct advantages in both cases. 

Soweto-based Chiefs have won a record 53 domestic titles since being formed in 1970, but none since finishing first in the Premiership five seasons ago. 

MOROCCO

A resurgence of the coronavirus in the kingdom has played havoc with the Moroccan Botola Pro 1 schedule and only two of the seven weekend fixtures went ahead. 

Clubs unable to play because of positive Covid-19 cases included the main challengers for the title, fierce Casablanca rivals Raja and Wydad, and Renaissance Berkane.

Table-toppers Raja have 45 points and a four-point advantage as they seek to become champions for the first time since 2013.

Wydad are five points adrift, but have a game in hand as they chase a fourth Botola title in six seasons, and Berkane are also on 40 points.  

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