Football: 10-man Sfaxien make it hell for Diables

Goals were scarce in CAF Confederation Cup last-16 first leg action this weekend with only five scored in six matches from Tunisia to Tanzania.

Three of the goals came from a team reduced to 10 men as 2007 and 2008 champions CS Sfaxien of Tunisia fought back to win 3-1 against Congo Brazzaville visitors Diables Noirs.

The only other club to find the net were former African champions ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast with a goal on the stroke of half-time earning a 1-0 win over Lydia Academic from Burundi in Abidjan.

There were 0-0 stalemates between ENPPI of Egypt and SuperSport United of South Africa, Al-Ahly Shandy of Sudan and Ismaily of Egypt, USMA of Algeria and US Bitam of Gabon and Azam of Tanzania and FAR Rabat of Morocco.

Diables Noirs are hoping to emulate compatriots AC Leopards, shock winners of the second-tier African club competition last season, and shook Sfaxien when Lorry Nkolo broke the deadlock with a goal midway through the first-half.

Regular scorer Yassine Khenissi was red carded as half-time approached after receiving a second caution at the compact Stade Taieb Mhiri in the Mediterranean city south east of Tunis.

But Dutch coach Ruud Krol stirred Sfaxien during the break and Mohamed Ali Moncer equalised on 53 minutes, Ivorian Idrissa Kouyate scored the second goal and Taoufik Salhi converted a late penalty.

Diables struck six goals at home in the previous round against Panthers from Equatorial Guinea, but penetrating the Sfaxien rearguard in Brazzaville is going to be considerably more difficult.

Michel Mvondo was the match-winner for ASEC, who should have won by a much wider margin given their dominance over Lydia at Stade Robert Champroux in the Ivorian commercial capital.

Academic goalkeeper Athanase Nyabenda retired injured during a hectic opening spell of Ivorian attacks and the Burundians came close to equalising soon after half-time when captain Youssouf Ndikumana rattled the crossbar.

SuperSport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved a stoppage-time penalty as his combative team maintained an unbeaten record after five matches in the competition this year.

Mustapha Allaoui wasted a chance to put FAR ahead in Dar es Salaam when he had only the goalkeeper to beat and Azam came close later in the second half through John Bocco.

Ahly seldom looked like breaking down well-organised Ismaily in Shandy and Bitam, who scored a record 17 goals in the preliminary round, proved equally good at defending by frustrating Arab Champions League finalists USMA.