Felix Badenhorst was the hero in Manzini on Tuesday with an all-important second half strike that helped Mbabane Swallows edge Primeiro de Agosto
Although now on second spot with less goals than leaders Etoile du Sahel, the Swazi side are equal on four points with the Tunisians who emerged 2-1 winners at home against Zesco United in Sousse a day later.
After Matchday One produced no winner in Group D with all teams drawing, Swallows’ win helped to start the shaping up of this pool.
Badenhorst’s deflected shot on the hour mark gave no chance to Agosto’s goalkeeper Adilson Cipriano and helped Swallows build on to a fine start to their campaign which saw them force a 1-1 away draw against Zesco in their opening match of the group.
After Badcenhorst’s goal, Swallows goalkeeper Sandile Ginindza turned out to be the saviour as he kept at bay a barrage of attacks by Agosto especially the one-hand save of Geraldo’s shot.
The win however did not place Swallows coach Thabo Vilakati in the comfort zone.
“It was a good match in which both teams came to the party with good football though it was littered with several missed scoring chances. I am glad it had to take that special moment between our captain Tony (Tsabedze) and Felix to craft that goal.
“We take the three points but the work is not yet done. This is African football and anything can change in the next few games but we still need to work hard if we are to sail through the group stage,” Vilakati told Cafonline.
In the other match in Tunisia, Etoile du Sahel took advantage of Zesco’s poor defending to romp home 2-1 winners.
Alaya Brigui and Egyptian striker Amr Marei were on target for the Tunisians who staged a strong second half display and now occupy top spot courtesy of superior goals over Swallows.
Although Zesco tried to claw their way back into the match through a Lazarus Kambole injury-time strike, it was too little, too late for the Zambian champions.
The Tunisians now lead the group through a superior goal difference as they now prepare to visit Swallows in July.
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After a goalless first half, Etoile came back stronger in the second stanza with Brigui finishing at the far post Wajda Kechrida’s cross just 40 seconds after the restart.
Marei doubled the hosts’ lead 10 minutes later when he volleyed home Alkhali Bangoura’s cross to place the 2007 champions on course to their second African title.
Etoile’s goalkeeper Achraf Krir nearly spoiled the evening when he spilled a corner kick and profited from Kambole to hit home Zesco’s consolation in the first minute of stoppage time.