CAIRO (AFP) - Nafiu Iddrisu scored twice to give ASEC of Ivory Coast a 2-0 triumph over Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in a clash of African Champions League heavyweights Sunday.
Iddrisu ended the Abidjan stalemate between former winners of the premier African club competition after 27 minutes and added a potentially crucial second goal three minutes into stoppage time.
ASEC, gallant semi-finals losers to eventual champions Al-Ahly of Egypt last year, entered the first leg of the final round qualifier under fire from coach Patrick Liewig.
The Frenchman, who watched from a stand at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium due to a four-match African Football Confederation ban, slammed the poor finishing and teamwork of the Abidjan 'Mimosas' in recent matches.
But despite the late goal and keeping a clean sheet, ASEC know the battle for a place in the 3.5-million-dollar group phase is far from over with the return match in two weeks.
ASEC also won 2-0 at home to Raja, the great Casablanca rivals of Wydad, in the 2002 semi-finals only to be buried under a four-goal avalanche in the Moroccan commercial capital.
Nasarawa United of Nigeria defied their lack of Champions League experience to stun much fancied Al-Hilal of Sudan 3-0 in the central city of Lafia, and seem set to be among the eight survivors.
Shehu Dauda opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, Seun Falodun added a nerve-settling second goal on 58 minutes and Stephen Saviour struck in the closing stages.
It was a rude awakening for a Hilal side containing four Nigerians after they impressively eliminated five-time champions Zamalek of Egypt in the second round last month.
Penalty kicks settled two tight clashes with TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo pipping FAR Rabat of Morocco 1-0 in Kinshasa and Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon won by the same score against Algerian visitors JS Kabylie.
Alain Kaluyituka Tioko converted a spot kick midway through the second half for Mazembe, who in 1968 became the first club of only three to successfully defend the title.
Francis Litsingi raised his Champions League goal tally this year to three by slotting home a penalty five minutes before half-time as perennial entrants Cotonsport seek a first appearance in the group phase.
Etoile of Congo defeated Al-Ittihad of Libya 3-1 in a Brazzaville clash of clubs not expected to progress so far in the competition and the winners will become the first side from their country to reach the league phase.
After finishing runners-up in 2004 and 2005 Etoile Sahel of Tunisia fell at the final qualifying hurdle last year, but are unlikely to suffer a similar fate this time after a 0-0 draw in Wome against Maranatha Fiokpo of Togo.
A late rally by Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa produced headed goals from Oscar Ntwagae and Venezuelan Jose Torrealba to earn a 2-2 draw with title holders Al-Ahly in Pretoria Saturday.
And 24 hours earlier, Esperance of Tunisia outclassed Young Africans of Tanzania 3-0 thanks to goals by Kamel Zaiem, Amine Ltaief and Walid Tayeb to virtually guarantee a record eighth appearance in the pool phase.
After the return matches, a draw will split the eight clubs into two groups with each playing the other three at home and away and the winners and runners-up advancing to the semi-finals.
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