Niang threat a worry for Leopards ahead of Supersport clash
27 February 2014, 15:41
Johannesburg - CAF Confederation Cup goal poacher Mame Niang will be a key man when SuperSport United and AFC Leopards clash this weekend.
The showdown between the South Africans and Kenyans in a Pretoria township is among 16 first-round fixtures in the second-tier African club competition.
Niang, a 1.94-metre giant from Senegal capital Dakar, has played for several South African sides plus clubs in Germany and Norway.
Renowned for his aerial threat, he unwrapped a lethal left foot against Botswanans Gaborone United in the preliminary round this month.
Both goals in a 2-0 home victory came from Niang shots before he reverted to his head to nod the lone goal of the return encounter.
The three goals elevated him to joint leading Confederation Cup scorer after the initial round with Kuda Musharu from Zimbabweans How Mine.
SuperSport coach Cavin Johnson told AFP there is more to Niang than scoring goals: "He knows Africa and helps our players understand the challenges.
"Competing in CAF competitions is very different from domestic football and Mame provides invaluable insight and advice."
Niang, who turns 30 at the end of March, could have bagged four goals against Gaborone as his rather casual first-leg penalty rebounded off the post.
SuperSport have reached the Confederation Cup play-offs twice, but slumped against Egyptian visitors ENPPI in the second round last year after a goalless first leg.
Johnson, a rising star among South African coaches, believes his team can become the first from the sub-continent to collect the 660,000-dollar (480,000 euros) first prize.
The 10-year competition, which replaced the African Cup Winners Cup and CAF Cup, has been dominated by Tunisian (four titles) and Moroccan (three titles) clubs.
Etoile Sahel and CA Bizertin carry the Tunisian flag and both are far from home this weekend with games against Congolese CARA and Angolans Desportivo Huila respectively.
Moroccans El-Jadida and Moghreb Fes make shorter journeys to tackle Gambians Gamtel and Ghanaians Medeama respectively in west Africa.
Nigeria have never won the Confederation Cup and 2009 semi-finalists Bayelsa United and twice second-round losers Warri Wolves carry the hopes of the most populous African nation.
Bayelsa confront inexperienced Kondzo in Congo Brazzaville and Wolves square up against former African champions Union Douala in Cameroon.
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