Wydad Casablanca begin CAF title defence by scoring seven goals
Wydad Casablanca, whose great defence won them the CAF Champions League last year, showed another side of their game as they thrashed Williamsville of the Ivory Coast 7-2 on Wednesday.
The visitors were first to score after only three minutes, then came from behind to hold the reigning champions 2-2 at half-time in a last-32 first leg in Casablanca.
But Williamsville, whose board members include Ivory Coast football legend Didier Drogba, were overwhelmed in the second half as Wydad struck five unanswered goals.
Ismail el Haddad, part of the 2017 Champions League-winning team, notched a second-half hat-trick and France-born Amin Tighazoui netted either side of the break.
It was a remarkable start by Wydad, who managed only one goal over two legs at the same stage last season and needed a penalty shootout to oust modest Mounana of Gabon.
Jean Francis Kouadio N'Da scored both goals for Williamsville, who upset vastly experienced Stade Malien of Mali in the preliminary round.
Recently appointed coach Faouzi Benzarti said before the match that he "saw no reason why Wydad could not retain the title".
It will be a tough task for the Moroccan outfit given that only Al Ahly of Egypt, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Enyimba of Nigeria have achieved the feat in 54 years.
However, scoring seven goals in a first outing can only boost the belief of a side that lost star attacker Achraf Bencharki to a Saudi Arabian club after conquering Africa.
It has been a season of goal sprees with another Moroccan club, Difaa el Jadida, scoring 10, Mouloudia Alger of Algeria nine and Zesco United of Zambia seven in preliminary matches.
Jadida found Vita Club of DR Congo much harder to penetrate and had to settle for a 1-0 victory at home to the 1973 champions through an early goal from Tanzanian Simon Msuva.
Mouloudia and Zesco both suffered one-goal losses, but the Algerians will be much the happier of the two teams.
They lost 2-1 to Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) in Nigeria and will fancy their chances of overcoming the slender deficit in north Africa, especially having scored an away goal.
African debutants MFM, who are bankrolled by a popular pentecostal church, scored and conceded before Bashiru Monsuru snatched the winner six minutes from time.
Zesco reached the 2016 Champions League semi-finals and were expected to build a first-leg advantage at home to former champions ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast.
Instead, they slumped 1-0 in mining city Ndola to a goal from Togolese Komlan Agbegniadan after 37 minutes and must win the return match in Abidjan to have any chance of survival.
A disastrous day for Zambian clubs was completed when Zanaco suffered a shock 2-1 loss in Lusaka to visiting Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.
Chavda Maisha netted just before half-time for the hosts only for Felix Badenhorst to equalise and Richard McCreesh snatched the winner four minutes from time.
Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, who preceded Wydad as champions, drew 0-0 with Rayon Sports in Rwanda while compatriots Bidvest Wits fell 1-0 to a late Primeiro Agosto goal in Angola.
A 4-0 win for Mazembe over Mozambican visitors Songo was no surprise given the gulf in strength between the clubs and rapidly improving Ben Malango helped himself to a hat-trick.