13 Jan 2019 11:00am
WINDHOEK, 12 JAN (NAMPA) African Stars Football Club and Raja Casablanca of Morocco played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg match of the 2018/19 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The match, which was played in hot weather, saw little goal-mouth action in the first 30 minutes, as the visitors struggled with the high temperatures in Windhoek.
Stars started off brightly as they tried to open up their opponents defence but were let down by their attackers who failed to create anything tangible, with Rodger Katjiteo being the chief culprit.
The out of form Stars striker was eventually replace by Panduleni Nekundi in the 30th minute.
The visitors were clearly happy to let Stars have all the possession in their own half, while trying to catch the home side on the counter attack.
The game came to life in the 39th minute when Alfeus Handura received a pass on the edge of the 18-yard box from Crispen Mbewe.
The defensive midfielder unleashed a powerful shot which beat Rajas goalkeeper Anas Zniti to give the home team a 1-0 advantage at the break.
The visitors started the second half brightly as they scored within three minutes of the restart after Engelhard Kahua conceded a soft corner kick, which the visitors quickly took.
Stars failed to deal with the cross and Soufiane Rahimi slammed the loose ball into the net.
Stars pushed forward and Mbewe could have found the winner, but his shot in the 82nd minute went wide, while Raja captain Badr Benoun blocked substitute Gustav Isaaks attempt.
The visitors had the last say as Abdelilah Hafidi fell in the Stars 18 yard box to claim a penalty, but his appeal was waved away by Cameroonian referee Antoine Max Depadoux Effa Essouma.
Raja coach Juan Carlos Garrido praised his teams effort, saying the heat and artificial turf made it difficult for his side.
It was a difficult match but I am happy with the result. The match official denied us a clear penalty. African Stars played well and made it difficult for us, he said.
Bobby Samaria of Stars was disappointed with the way his side conceded the equaliser.
We knew they are not that good when defending crosses, and we scored our goal from a ball from the wing. Unfortunately we allowed them to score a silly goal. Nobody gave us a chance because Raja are the defending champions, which proves that at this level one small mistake you are gone, he added.
Stars will travel to Morocco for the second leg on 20 January in Marrakech.