African club football newcomers Deportivo Niefang of Equatorial Guinea, Energie of Benin and La Mancha of Congo Brazzaville reached the CAF Confederation Cup last-32 stage on Tuesday.The progress of Energie was the most dramatic as they scored deep in stoppage time to hold one-time continental giants Hafia 1-1 in Guinea and win 2-1 on aggregate.
La Mancha scored the only goal of the preliminary round second leg and the tie to eliminate AS Tanda of the Ivory Coast in Atlantic port city Pointe-Noire. Niefang also won 1-0, giving them victory over New Stars of Cameroon on away goals after trailing 2-1 from the first leg this month. Al Masry of Egypt, APR of Rwanda, Belouizdad of Algeria, Cape Town City of South Africa, Petro Luanda of Angola, Port Louis of Mauritius and Simba of Tanzania were other overall winners.
A further 10 second legs are scheduled for Wednesday ahead of the round of 32 during March when giants like Moroccan side Raja Casablanca and Zamalek of Egypt enter the competition. Hafia, who were African champions three times and runners-up twice during the 1970s, wiped out the first-leg deficit against Energie after only 11 minutes through Aboubacar Camara. But with the return match in Conakry seemingly destined for a penalty shootout, Jean Marie Sanni Guera levelled eight minutes into additional time.
The next opponents of Energie will be Enyimba of Nigeria, one of the 10 most successful clubs in CAF competitions with two Champions League and two Super Cup titles. Since AC Leopards surprisingly won the 2012 Confederation Cup, Congo Brazzaville clubs have been largely disappointing in the African equivalent of the Europa League. So, the success of La Mancha over Tanda through a 29th-minute Guy Mbenza goal brought a welcome change of fortune for the central African nation.
In the round of 32 they will meet Al Ahly Shendy of Sudan, regular but mainly unsuccessful Confederation Cup participants. Pedro Asu was the match-winner for Niefang in coastal city Bata, scoring after 29 minutes to eliminate New Stars, the latest in a long line of Cameroonian failures at CAF club level. The reward for the Equatoguineans is a match-up with Daring Club Motema Pembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, winners of the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup in 1994.
Ludovic Lafoudre was the individual star of the day, scoring a hat-trick for Port Louis of Mauritius as they romped to a 4-1 win over Ngazi of the Comoros to advance 5-2 overall. APR, Cape Town City and Simba beat their opponents a second time as they ousted Anse Reunion of the Seychelles, Young Buffaloes of Swaziland and Djibouti’s Gendarmerie Nationale.