FUS Rabat went one point clear at the top of their Caf Confederation Cup Group on Friday after a 3-1 win away to fellow Moroccans Kawkab Marrakech.
Both teams have experienced African glory in the past, with Kawkab winning the now defunct Caf Cup in 1996 and FUS lifting the Confederation Cup against the odds six years ago.
Until Friday, Kawkab Marrakech had won all five of their Caf home matches this year, and the defeat to their Moroccan rivals also moved them off the top of the Group B standings.
Youssef El Gnaoui put FUS Rabat ahead early on from the penalty spot, with Mohamed El Fakih also hitting a first-half penalty to level the score at 1-1.
Second half goals from captain Abdessalam Benjelloun and Mohamed Fouzair put FUS Rabat in firm control as they secured a well earned victory inflicting a first home defeat in Caf games on Kawkab this season.
Elsewhere in Group B, the defending champions Etoile du Sahel have secured only one point and need a home win over bottom-of-the-table Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya on Saturday night to remain title contenders.
In Group A, TP Mazembe are expecting are a serious challenge from Mouloudia Bejaia in their Confederation Cup match this weekend.
The pair are unbeaten in Group A with DR Congo’s TP Mazembe leading their Algerian opponents by two points after two games.
“This promises to be our most difficult group match,” admitted France-born Mazembe coach Hubert Velud before the Lubumbashi Ravens flew to Algeria.
“The players want to continue what they have been doing lately,” he said, referring to successive victories – at home to Medeama of Ghana and away to Young Africans of Tanzania.
Title-holders Mazembe were eliminated from the Champions League in the final qualifying round and demoted to the Confederation Cup – a fate that also befell Bejaia.
Having relied on an away goal to oust Stade Gabesien of Tunisia in a play-off, Mazembe finally clicked to beat Medeama 3-1 with Zambia winger Rainford Kalaba bagging a brace.
Kalaba missed the victory over Young Africans through injury, but is fit to face Bejaia.
Although the Algerians lack the stars and the pedigree of their rivals, coach Nacer Sandjak has his sights set on maximum points and top spot.
“This match offers a great opportunity to maintain our unbeaten group record, collect three points and replace Mazembe as leaders,” he told the Algerian media.
Only Yacine Salhi has scored for the Bejaia Crabs in the group stage, but the club competing in Africa for the first time this season have kept two clean sheets.
Bottom side Young Africans were held to a 1-1 draw by Ghanaian side Medeama on Saturday – a result which did little for either side’s hopes of progressing out of the group.
Scoring had been a problem for both teams, but it took just three minutes for the deadlock to be broken, when Donald Ngoma struck first for the hosts in Dar es Salaam.
Medeama got their equaliser sixteen minutes later through Bernard Ofiri.
The result leaves Medeama two points behind Bejaia ahead of the Algerian side’s game at home to TP Mazembe on Sunday.
Young Africans are still bottom of Group A with one point.