Bidvest Wits succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Djoliba AC in their second Caf Confederation Cup Group C match on Sunday.
Georges Kouadio’s men were targeting their first win in the group stage after drawing 1-1 with Libyan giants Al Nasr away last weekend.
As expected, the influential duo of Souleymane Coulibaly and El-Hadji Salim Bah started for Djoliba with the latter having netted against Al Nasr.
While Wits were also looking to secure their first-ever victory in the group stage after being held to a 0-0 draw by Guinean champions AC Horoya at home last weekend.
Kouadio’s counterpart, Gavin Hunt named a strong starting line-up with South Africa skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo and Mozambique captain Elias Pelembe both starting.
The hosts pushed for an early goal in the opening stages of the match, but the Wits defence which was marshalled by Hlatshwayo stood firm.
However, Djoliba upped the tempo towards the half-hour mark and they managed to break the deadlock through former Orlando Pirates midfielder Boubacar Talatou Djibo in the 30th minute.
The midfielder was set up by Coulibaly and he burst into the visitors’ box before firing past Brandon Peterson in the Wits goal-posts to make it 1-0 to Djoliba.
The home side continued to attack and Buhle Mkhwanai was forced to put his body on the line when he blocked Hamidou Sinayo’s shot from inside the box.
Wits finished the first half strongly as Terrence Dzvukamanja’s low shot was well-saved by Adama Keita in the hosts’ goal-posts and the score was 1-0 to Djoliba at half-time.
The Clever Boys did most of the attacking in the early stages of the second half – playing long balls and crosses into the Djoliba box.
Dzvukamanja connected with Pelembe’s cross, but the Zimbabwean marksman placed his header wide of the target without troubling Keita.
The hosts’ solid defence was frustrating Wits as Thabang Monare tried his luck from range and his effort flew over the crossbar.
Sameehg Doutie, who scored against Mozambican side UD Songo in the qualifying rounds, was introduced by Hunt as Wits searched for the equalising goal.
However, the hosts defended in numbers in the latter stages of the match and ultimately, Djoliba emerged 1-0 winners over Wits.
As a result, Djoliba and Wits are placed second and third respectively on the group standings with two matches played.