How Mine dig deep to snatch Confederation Cup advantage
How Mine of Zimbabwe fought back to edge Nigeria's Bayelsa United 2-1 in a Caf Confederation Cup qualifier in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Bernard Okorowanta put the visitors ahead just after half-time at Barbourfields stadium in the last-16, first leg clash.
Morris Kadzola levelled on the hour mark and Menard Mupera converted a stoppage-time penalty after the gold miners wasted many scoring chances.
Bayelsa host the return match in south-eastern Nigeria next weekend with a place in the play-offs of the second-tier African club competition at stake.
United, who reached the semi-finals five years ago, will be favourite to advance despite the loss, having secured a precious away goal. However, How Mine coach Philani Ncube remains confident of progress, telling reporters his side are capable of securing at least a draw in west Africa.
Having scored 12 goals in four matches against modest opponents, How Mine knew Bayelsa would be tougher. That was confirmed just after half-time when Okorowanta punished careless defending to slam the ball past goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura.
Xolisan Moyo created the equaliser for Kadzola, who gave goalkeeper Gideon Gambo no chance from close range, and the scene was set for a tense finish. With Bayelsa seemingly content to draw, the miners pressed forward, knowing only a victory would give them a realistic chance of overall success.
Elsewhere, South Africans SuperSport United lost 1-0 away to Tunisians Etoile du Sahel who are coached by Roger Lemerre, the man who guided France to the Euro 2000 title. Ayala Brigui headed in the winner on eight minutes.
Etoile, the only club to have won all five Caf club competitions, looked stronger for much of the match at the Stade Olympique in Sousse. However, excellent goalkeeping by Ronwen Williams as well as the woodwork restricted the 2006 Confederation Cup winners to a slender advantage. SuperSport did get the ball in the net, but Senegalese Mame Niang was penalised for handball.
Egyptians Wadi Degla overcame Malians Djoliba 2-0 in Cairo. Mohamed Talaat broke the deadlock early in the second half by knocking home a rebound after goalkeeper Cheick Bathily blocked an effort from Ethiopia star Saladin Said. The second goal arrived in stoppage time when Abdoulaye Traore put the ball into his net.
Jean-Paul Niyonzima scored midway through the second half to earn Rwandans AS Kigali a 1-0 home victory over Morocco's Difaa El-Jadida.
Elsewhere, Zambians Zesco United lost 2-0 away to Ghana's Medeama. Experienced African campaigners Petro Atletico of Angola drew 0-0 away at the home of 1969 African champions Ismaili of Egypt and CS Constantine defeated Ivorians ASEC Mimosas 1-0 in Algeria.
Nigerians Warri Wolves did well to hold formidable Tunisians CA Bizertin to a 0-0 home draw as they try to get beyond the second round for the first time in three attempts. Bizertin lost narrowly to compatriots and eventual champions CS Sfaxien in the 2013 semi-finals and are the only side boasting a 100% record this year.