Al Ahly advance as Mazembe bow out African Champions League

TP Mazembe fans
TP Mazembe fans

Former champions TP Mazembe of DR Congo crashed out of this year's African Champions League despite beating South Africa's Orlando Pirates 1-0 in Lubumbashi.

Defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt edged through as they beat CA Bizertin of Tunisia 2-1 behind closed doors in Cairo.

Also through to the group stages are five-time winners Zamalek, Confederation Cup winners AC Leopards of Congo, Cameroon's Coton Sport, Esperance of Tunisia, Angola's Recreativo Libolo and Sewe San Pedro of Ivory Coast.

Mazembe suffered a 3-2 aggregate defeat after losing the first leg 3-1 in Johannesburg a fortnight ago.

The return leg was full of drama as Mazembe missed two penalties and only needed a second goal to go through after Jean Kasusula put them ahead in the 71st minute.

Despite Mazembe's efforts, they could not add to the 1-0 scoreline.

Pirates played most of the match without their captain Lucky Lekgwathi who was shown a red card in the first half for rough play and the South Africans had their goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa to thank for keeping them in the tie after he saved two spot-kicks.

Mazembe now drop into the Confederations Cup. Club president Moise Katumbi told BBC Sport that as much as everyone is disappointed with the result, the team will take their participation in Confederations Cup seriously.

"Mazembe played their best but it just wasn't their day. Congratulations to Pirates and I hope they go all the way in the competition and do Africa proud," he said.

Pirates coach Roger de Sa, whose team won the competition in 1996, praised his players' spirit for the qualification. He, however, noted his squad will need to be strengthened if they are to progress.

Ahly veterans Mohamed Barakat and Emad Moteab scored the second-half goals that helped the seven-time African champions win 2-1 on aggregate over Bizertin.

Barakat converted a penalty and Moteab struck just past the hour mark before substitute Nour Hadhria halved the deficit from a spot kick for Bizertin, whose cause was not helped by the late expulsion of Mohamed AlMohazabi.

Elsewhere, the shock 2012 Confederation Cup winners AC Leopards become the first Champions League qualifiers from Congo Brazzaville to reach the group phase after a nail-biting win over Entente Setif.

Leopards took a 3-1 advantage to Algeria ahead of their last-sixteen second leg, only for Entente to fight back, winning by the same margin at home. With the tie level at 4-4 it went down to a decisive penalty shoot-out with Leopards just edging through 5-4.

Saint George failed in their bid to become the first Ethiopian club to reach the Champions League group stage when they lost to Zamalek of Egypt on the away-goals rule. They had already exceeded expectations with a 1-1 draw against the five-time African champions in Cairo two weeks ago. In another tight encounter, Zamalek snatched a late 2-2 draw at a packed 30,000-capacity national stadium in Addis Ababa to progress.

Burkina Faso-born striker Abdoulaye Cisse was the two-goal star for the White Knights, opening the scoring after two minutes and levelling with a header two minutes from time. Earlier, Shimeles Bekele had equalised for the hosts 15 minutes into the opening half and Isaac Isinde had put them in front just before half-time.

Recreativo Libolo of Angola knocked out Nigerian club Enugu Rangers, winning their home leg 3-1 in Calulo after the first leg had ended goal-less. Goals from Senegal's Henri Camara and Dario Cardoso gave Libolo a two-goal advantage at half-time. Africa Cup of Nations star Sunday Mba had halved the deficit for the Nigerians after the break. Cardoso then converted a late penalty to take Libolo into the group phase.

Esperance, runners-up to Al Ahly last year after winning the 2011 Champions League, ensured that a Tunisian team will be present at the pool stage. In front of their home fans, they secured a 1-0 victory over JSM Bejaia of Algeria, Khalil Chammam converting a second-half penalty. The first leg had ended in a goal-less draw.

Sewe San Pedro of Ivory Coast squeezed through to the next phase on the away-goals rule after they drew 0-0 at home with FUS Rabat of Morocco. The two teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after the first leg.

Coton Sport of Cameroon, runners-up to Ahly five years ago, took a 3-0 lead to Stade Malien in Mali. That first leg performance proved all-important for Coton Sport. The return match in Bamako finished 0-0, leaving the visitors convincing 3-0 winners on aggregate.