Aerial power brought Egyptians Al-Ahly a 2-0 win over Zambians Nkana this weekend as the CAF Confederation Cup group stage kicked off.
After a goalless opening half at an empty Petro Sport Stadium in Cairo, substitute Amr Gamal and Mohamed `Gedo` Nagy headed early second-half goals to secure maximum points.
It was a satisfactory if unspectacular start for Fathi Mabrouk, a 63-year-old promoted from Ahly youth coach when Mohamed Youssef resigned last month.
Youssef quit in the wake of a shock CAF Champions League exit with Ahly losing home and away to Libyan namesakes Al-Ahly Benghazi in a final round qualifier.
Ahly and Nkana were among six of eight Champions League demotees to the second-tier Confederation Cup who won play-offs and secured group places.
Nkana returned to Cairo this weekend a chastened side having been humiliated 5-0 by Zamalek in the Champions League.
Zambian coach Masauso Mwale promised there would be no repeat of the debacle and his side were not overawed during the opening half by opponents boasting a record 18 CAF club titles.
Evans Kangwa, a recent addition to the Nkana squad, wasted two good scoring chances while `Gedo` had a goal disallowed for fouling goalkeeper Rabson Mucheleng`anga.
Ahly broke the deadlock a minute into the second half amid eerie silence with spectators barred for security reasons.
Gamal took advantage of slow-reacting central defenders to nod a Mahmoud `Trezeguet` Hassan cross down into the corner of the net.
`Gedo` doubled the advantage on 56 minutes, making a late run into the goalmouth and sending an unstoppable header off a corner past the Nkana goalkeeper.
Mabrouk believes Tunisians Etoile Sahel -- Confederation Cup winners in 2006 and runners-up in 2008 -- pose the greatest Group B threat,to the Cairo `Red Devils`.
Etoile go into action later Sunday away to Ivorians Sewe San Pedro, impressive play-off winners at home and away against Nigerians Bayelsa United.
ASEC Mimosas, the other Ivorian challengers for a $660,000 (480,000 euros) first prize, drew 1-1 at Malians Real Bamako.
Cameroonian midfielder Ndoussa Mvondo put the Abidjan club ahead midway through the second half at Stade Modibo Keita in the Malian capital.
But Real snatched a point in the final minute when Moussa Kone converted a penalty for his second Confederation Cup goal having scored in a play-off win over compatriots Djoliba.
The Group A fixture between Congolese AC Leopards and Cameroonians Coton Sport scheduled for Dolisie was postponed as Congo had an Africa Cup of Nations engagement in Namibia.