The former title-holders, Orlando Pirates, suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Jwaneng Galaxy of Botswana in the first leg of their CAF Champions League qualifier. The match took place in Gaborone, where Zimbabwean forward Daniel Msendami scored the only goal of the game in the 21st minute.
Despite dominating possession, Galaxy were unable to extend their lead until the second half when Benson Mangolo found the back of the net. However, the goal was controversially ruled offside, much to the disappointment of the capacity crowd of 25,000.
Orlando Pirates were missing their star forward, Zakhele Lepasa, who was unavailable for the match. His replacement, Cameroonian Souaibou Marou, failed to make an impact and was substituted later in the game.
The South Africans will now host the return match in Soweto on September 29, with a group place at stake. They will be hoping to avoid a repeat of history when, in the 2010 Champions League, they were stunned by Gaborone United in a qualifier, losing on away goals after a 2-2 draw in South Africa.
In other CAF Champions League matches, North African powerhouses Esperance of Tunisia and Chabab Belouizdad of Algeria secured victories, while Wydad Casablanca of Morocco managed a draw in West Africa.
Esperance, four-time champions, claimed a 1-0 victory over hosts AS Douanes of Burkina Faso in Yamoussoukro. Algerian Mohamed Tougai converted a first-half penalty to secure the win for the Tunisian side. The match had to be moved to Ivory Coast as Burkina Faso does not have an international-standard stadium, leading to matches being played at neutral venues.
Belouizdad, aiming for their fourth consecutive appearance in the quarter-finals, came from behind to defeat Sierra Leone’s Bo Rangers 3-1. Oussama Darfalou was the star performer, setting up Abderrahmane Meziane for the equalizer before halftime and scoring two goals in the second half.
Wydad Casablanca, the runners-up in the 2023 Champions League final, held Hafia of Guinea to a 1-1 draw in Conakry. Bouly Sambou, the joint leading scorer in the competition last season, put Wydad ahead in the 11th minute. Hafia equalized just before halftime through Mohamed Damoro.
In another match, Horoya from Guinea suffered a 3-1 defeat against Medeama of Ghana in Cape Coast. Ibrahima Conde of Horoya was sent off in the match, making their task even more difficult.
Finally, TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo secured a 1-0 away victory against Nyasa Big Bullets of Malawi. The winning goal was scored by Malian teenager Cheikh Fofana.