Given Singuluma celebrates birthday early

Given Singuluma celebrated his birthday a day early by scoring both goals Sunday as African Champions League holders TP Mazembe of DR Congo defeated Dynamos of Zimbabwe 2-0 in Harare.

The Zambian goal poacher turns 24 Monday and his strikes 16 and 32 minutes into the first half at the National Stadium gave Mazembe the perfect start in Group A with the win taking them to the top of the table.

Mazembe, who edged Heartland of Nigeria on away goals in the 2009 final, are seeking a fourth African title, the 1,5-million-dollar first prize and a ticket to the year-end FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

After a win and three draws during a warm-up tour of Zambia, the Congolese ‘Crows’ flew south to the Zimbabwean capital confident they would put the Harare Glamour Boys in their place.

Singuluma, who failed to score in four qualifiers for the mini-league phase of the premier African club competition, tormented a Dynamos defence boosted by the return of goalkeeper Washington Arubi from trials in South Africa.

The result vindicated the pre-match boast of Franco-Italian coach Diego Garzitto that he and Mazembe, whose other titles came in 1967 and 1968, can conquer the continent again.

“I have confidence in my players and our hopes are very high. There are a few new players in the squad this year and it appears stronger on paper, although we have to prove it on the pitch,” he said.

Dynamos lost the 1998 final to ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast and reached the semi-finals two years ago before failing at home and away against Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon.

The other Group A game also produced an away win with Wajdi Bouazzi scoring soon after half-time to give Esperance of Tunisia a 1-0 victory over Entente Setif of Algeria Friday.

Bouazzi struck on 52 minutes for his fifth goal of the 2010 competition which makes him joint leading scorer with Mandela Ocansey from eliminated Burkina Faso club ASFA Yennenga.

Oussama Darragi, a disappointment as Tunisia made a first-round 2010 African Nations Cup exit in Angola, created the goal that settled a clash of former title holders with Setif winning in 1988 and Esperance six years later.

Esperance host Dynamos on July 31 and Mazembe have home advantage over Setif one day later in the second series of matches in a six-round mini-league phase with group winners and runners-up qualifying for the semi-finals.


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