Forward Bakri Babeker laid a perfect cross into the visitors defence, which met the head of Jizoli to beat flapping Mazembe goalie Muteba Kidiaba and hand the Omdurman-based club a flying start to the mini-league stage of the premier continental championship.
Despite playing in Khartoum, Hilal were cheered on by a packed crowd at the Khartoum Stadium, with the club’s blue and white colours covering every space, to outplay their visitors and make certain of the maximum points.
Mazembe, four-time winner were the first to make an attempt at goal and it was Ghana-born offensive midfielder Gladson Awako with a shot from his left foot that missed target narrowly after Rainford Kalaba had squared him through after 11 minutes.
The homers will respond four minutes later and experienced defender Saif Masawi was denied by Kidiaba, who pulled off a point blank save from the former’s goal bound header from a corner kick.
Hilal maintained dominance, but just before half time suffered a major blow with Masawi being stretched-off after a collision with Mazembe defender Salif Coulibaly. His place was taken by Sierra Leonean David Simbo who made the absence of Masawi rarely felt.
Six minutes into the second half, Babeker trapped a pass from the midfield into play before laying to Jizoli who headed past Kidiaba for the opener and the stadium responded in ecstasy.
Mazembe lost the midfield battle forcing coach Patrice Caretron to bring on Given Singuluma and Thomas Ulimwengu for Awako and Kalaba respectively, yet they found the Hilal defence too tight to break.
Hilal came close a couple of times to double the score with Babaker missing a sitter three minutes from time. After the Mazembe defence failed to clear a cross from substitute Mamadou Coulibaly, Babeker was the lucky recipient but he surprisingly blasted wide with only Kidiaba to beat.
As the game wore on, Mbwana Samatta almost grabbed the much-needed equalizer in added-on time with a grounder across the face of goal that missed by inches with Hilal goalie Gumaa Genaro completely beaten.
Hilal now sit at the apex of Group A with three points whilst Mazembe drop to the bottom pointless. The other Group A match will take place on Sunday, 18 May 2014, between AS Vita (DR Congo) and Zamalek (Egypt) in Kinshasa.
Brazilian coach of Hilal, Paulo Campos was full of praise for his players for the spirited performance against the high-ranking Congolese champions.
“It was a beautiful and we put up a wonderful output. Tactically, we were close to perfection. We know Mazembe is a good team and the result was fair. Three points in the opening match is very important.
“The group is tough and we have to try our best to go through, though Mazembe and Zamalek are favourites,” Campos added.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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