Kaizer Chiefs CAF Champions League return ends in victory for SA glamour club
JOHANNESBURG - Itumeleng Khune saved a penalty as South African giants Kaizer Chiefs made a winning return to the CAF Champions League by beating PWD Bamenda 1-0 in Cameroon at the weekend.
Several superb saves by the 33-year-old goalkeeper kept Chiefs level until defender Eric Mathoho scored the only goal of the preliminary round first leg six minutes from time.
Chiefs consider themselves one of the top clubs in Africa, but have consistently flopped in the Champions League, with their last appearance four years ago.
Here, AFP Sport provides five talking points as the 2021 edition of the elite African club competition kicked off on the same weekend as Al Ahly of Egypt won the 2020 final.
Chiefs shrugged off poor domestic form to edge debutants Bamenda in a match moved from the northwest to Limbe in the southwest of Cameroon for security reasons.
The Soweto outfit have lifted a record 53 domestic trophies since their 1970 formation, but none in the past five seasons, and won just two of eight local matches this season before flying to central Africa.
Cameroon were once a force at CAF club level, but no club from the country has won the Champions League since Canon Yaounde defeated Kinshasa club AS Bilima 5-2 on aggregate in the 1980 final.
Former back-to-back champions Enyimba of Nigeria beat Rahimo of Burkina Faso 1-0 in Ouagadougou thanks to a headed goal from Victor Mbaoma with 14 minutes remaining.
The teams met at the same stage last season with Rahimo winning 1-0 at home before suffering a 5-0 away drubbing in their first Champions League appearance.
Plateau United, the other Nigerian challengers, surprisingly lost 1-0 at home in Jos to Simba of Tanzania with Zambian Clatous Chama scoring on 54 minutes.
Al Hilal of Sudan celebrated participating in the Champions League a record 34th time by winning 1-0 away to Vipers of Uganda in Entebbe.
Waleed Bakhet scored the only goal after 25 minutes and it is hard to imagine the 1982 and 1987 runners-up not advancing after the return match in Omdurman this weekend.
Hilal first competed in the premier CAF club competition in 1966 and have played in every edition since 2004, reaching the semi-finals four times.
Firas Chaouat was the star of the first legs, scoring a hat-trick as CS Sfaxien of Tunisia trounced Mlandege of Zanzibar 5-0 on the Indian Ocean island off the coast of Tanzania.
Nigerian Kingsley Eduwo and Hani Amamou gave four-time CAF title winners Sfaxien a two-goal half-time advantage before Chaouat wreaked havoc with a treble.
Sfaxien came closest to winning the Champions League in 2006 when they conceded a last-minute goal at home against Ahly to lose 1-0 at home in the second leg of the final and 2-1 on aggregate.
An Andrew Juma own-goal on the hour settled the big match in east Africa as APR of Rwanda beat Gor Mahia of Kenya 2-1 in Kigali.
Olivier Niyonzima gave the Rwandan military outfit an early lead that Kenneth Muguna cancelled before half-time.
Gor entered the match in disarray after bungled travel arrangements, a squad go-slow over unpaid salaries and the suspension of an official.