CAF Champions League: Holders Wydad Casablanca thrash Williamsville AC
There was a scare for holders Wydad Casablanca as they began the defence of their CAF Champions League title by letting in two first half goals against Williamsville AC from Ivory Coast.
However, the Moroccan club finished emphatic 7-2 winners in their First Round clash, and are still well placed to advance to the group phase.
Former African champions Esperance, Mamelodi Sundowns and Congolese giants Tout Puissant Mazembe also all made positive starts, but 2014 winners ES Setif and Algerian compatriots Mouloudia Alger lost.
Jean Willy Nda handed the Ivorians a shock third-minute lead away in a rainy Casablanca, but their advantage lasted just as many minutes before Mohammed Aoulad equalised.
Amin Tighazoui then put the home side ahead in the 16th minute but WAC came straight back three minutes later through Kouassi Diallo Junior.
After the break, Mohamed Nahiri, Tighazoui and then a late hat-trick from Ismail El Haddad restored order as the Champions League holders delivered a major statement of intent for their title ambitions.
Ben Malango scored a hat-trick for Mazembe and Jackson Muleka got the other goal in a 4-0 thrashing of UD Songo, the debutants from Mozambique.
Esperance and Sundowns played out goalless draw away in East Africa, with the Tunisians up against Kenya's Gor Mahia in Nairobi and Sundowns living dangerously in their match with Rayon Sport of Rwanda in Kigali.
Home advantage should see the giants through to the group phase when the return legs are played on the weekend of March 16-18.
Aduana Stars needed a second half penalty to beat Setif 1-0, with midfielder Sam Adams converting to hand the Ghanaian champions a first-leg advantage.
Mouloudia Alger also went behind to a penalty in their tie against MFM of Nigeria in Lagos.
Chijoke Akuneto scored for the home team in the 34th minute but Mouloudia equalised through Abdelaziz Ammachi, only to give up a late winner to Monsuru Bashiru.
Swaziland's Mbabane Swallows transferred last year's giantkilling spree in the CAF Confederation Cup to this year's Champions League, and took a giant step towards becoming the first club from the small kingdom to reach the group phase after victory in Zambia.
Swallows came from a goal down to score through Felix Badenhorst's back-post header in the 55th minute. Richard McCreesh's 87th minute winner was enough to beat Zanaco 2-1 at Lusaka's Nkoloma Stadium.
Striker Felix Nyaende missed a stoppage-time penalty which would have given the lacklustre Zambians the draw after Chavda Maisha had opened the scoring in the 40th minute.
It is the first year Zambia have two representatives in the Champions League, but their chances of having a side in the group phase look slim after ZESCO United, who are without a coach, lost 1-0 in Ndola to ASEC Abidjan.
Gelson got a 78th-minute winner for Primeiro Agosto to defeat Bidvest Wits 1-0 in Angola, while Association Sportive Togo-Port surprised giants Al Hilal of Sudan 2-0.