A first half brace from striker Tady Etekiama earned AS Vita of Congo a 2-1 win over Saint George of Ethiopia on Tuesday in Kinshasa and breathe life into their campaign.
Etekiama scored twice in the opening minutes to give “Les Dauphins Noirs” a two-goal lead at the interval before Salahdin Said pulled one back for the visiting Ethiopians in the Group C Day Four clash.
It was a deserving win for the homers, champions in 1973, their first at the group stage and boosts their fortunes as far as a place at the knockout stage is concerned. For Saint George, their maiden loss at the mini-league stage leaves them with five points, two more than AS Vita who remain bottom of the log.
After a promising start, AS Vita broke the deadlock on seven minutes after Etakiama’s angled shot beat Saint George goalie Zerihun Deressie from close range.
The driving force of “Les Dauphins Noirs” was Botuli Bopunga who despite playing in an unfamiliar midfield role lived up to expectation. He was the architect of Vita’s consistent raids upfront and was as was heavily involved in the defensive duties too.
Seven minutes later, a Bopunga header from Kupa Makwekwe overhead kick forced a superb save of Deressie.
Two minutes before the half-hour mark, Bopunga earned his side a penalty after Saint George defender Kasa Frezer fouled him in the vital area as they battled for the ball from a cross from the right. Etekiama elected himself for the kick and he sent Deressie the wrong way to double Vita’s lead.
At that moment, it was Vita all the way until the Ethiopians stepped up their game in the second half. And their efforts yielded results on 66 minutes when a Salahdin lob beat Lukong Bongaman to make it 2-1.
However, Vita held on to claim a vital victory and keep the group open and soothe the pressure on coach Florent Ibenge, after successive losses in their opening three matches including a 3-1 defeat to holders Mamelodi Sundowns at home.
Sundowns of South Africa are away in Tunis to face Esperance in the other Group C match on Wednesday.