SuperSport United salvage point vs. Horoya in Confederation Cup opener

Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The expanded group phase of the African Confederation Cup got off to an inauspicious start in Pretoria on Friday when the game between SuperSport United of South Africa and Guinea's Horoya AC kicked off 30 minutes late because of an errant bus driver and ended in a surprise 2-2 draw for the hosts.

The start of the match was delayed because the bus supposed to pick the visiting team at their plush city hotel failed to arrive at the appointed time and finally only delivered them at the Lucas Moripe Stadium a few minutes before the scheduled kick off.

However, a hasty warm-up did not seem to impact on Horoya, who twice took the lead against their hosts before settling for a potentially vital point in Group D.

The game marks the first of a busy weekend in the competition as the Confederation Cup group phase, like that of the African Champions League, has been doubled to 16 teams this year.

Two imports were the scorers for Horoya, with first, Jean Francis Ebele of Cameroon putting them ahead in the 33rd minute -- taking advantage of some sloppy defending to head home a bouncing ball -- and then Ghanaian Sebe Baffour Keyi restoring their advantage in the 51st minute with a strong strike from outside the penalty area.

In between, SuperSport equalised with a stunning left-footed free kick from full back Keegan Ritchie, but only salvaged a point eight minutes from time when Thuso Phala fired home after running onto a defence-splitting pass.

The 30-year-old could have won it for SuperSport in stoppage time, but missed a backpost sitter as the hosts were forced to settle for a point.

Horoya were visibly delighted with their drawt after a difficult encounter in wet and cold conditions, and with the altitude of South Africa's capital sapping their energy.

Victor Zvunka's side deserve credit for being well organised in defence and did well to hold out against an unfamiliar SuperSport United side featuring many of the club's fringe players.

The South Africans have used this year's Confederation Cup to hand starts to many of their lesser lights, a policy that might yet back fire on them if they have any realistic ambition of reaching the latter stages of the competition.