By Solomon Nwoke, Owerri
Former Under-23 coach Samson Siasia began his quest to land the CAF Champions League title with Heartland of Owerri on a shaky note yesterday, when visiting Al Ahly of Egypt escaped with a 1-1 draw.
The match decided at the Dan Anyiam Stadium Owerri saw Heartland struggling to break the defence of the six-time champions. It was after the break that Bello Kofor Mata broke the deadlock in the 50th minute.
That goal saw Al Ahly pouring forward searching for the equaliser. Their effort was rewarded in the 75th minute after veteran Aboul Treka finished off from the penalty spot.
Nigeriaâ€™s other continental contenders, Enyimba of Aba suffered an embarrassing defeat in Lusaka in their CAF Confederation Cup match against Zanaco FC of Zambia. And Enyimba officials blamed the loss on their players who went on trials in Europe.
The two-time CAF Champions League champions were a shadow of themselves in the match and by the end of the first half, they were down 4-0.
â€œWe have internal problems. Our key players went to Norway on trials, after we won the Globacom League.
â€œWe came to Lusaka with just fifteen players. Thatâ€™s the mentality of African players.
Zanaco took just two minutes to take the lead through defender Eugene Shamakamba who headed in from a corner kick.
Three minutes later, Zanaco doubled their lead through Mathews Macha whose close -range shot beat Enyimba goalkeeper Ejiogu Chiyoke.
Enyimbaâ€™s best attempt in the first half came from their lively winger Philip Auta on 15 minutes who skipped pasted Zanacoâ€™s defence but saw his tame shot sail across the face of the home sideâ€™s goal mouth.
Zanaco stretched their lead to 3-0 in the 29th minute through Zambia international Ignatius Lwipa and the hosts completed the rout in the 44th minute when striker Winston Kalengo headed in from close range.