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Aribi lifts CAF CL goal haul to nine and eyes record

CAF Champions League leading scorer Karim Aribi (L) scored twice for Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in a 3-0 away win over Platinum of Zimbabwe © AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Dec 8Karim Aribi raised his goal haul to nine from six matches in the 2019/2020 CAF Champions League with a brace as Group B pacesetters Etoile Sahel outplayed Platinum 3-0 in Zimbabwe Saturday.

The 1.92-metre Algerian headed Tunisian outfit Etoile in front midway through the first half in southern city Bulawayo and struck again a minute after half-time with a close-range shot.

A Hazem Haj-Hassen tap-in one minute into stoppage time ensured the club from Mediterranean resort Sousse a maximum six points after two matchdays.

Aribi scored four goals in one match and netted twice in two others as he eyes overtaking the 13-goal Champions League record set by Nigerian Stephen Worgu in 2008.

Etoile have four more mini-league fixtures to play and, almost certainly, at least two knockout matches, giving Aribi ample opportunities to bolster his tally.

In the same section, record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt were more decisive winners over Al Hilal of Sudan in Cairo than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.

Goals from Hussein el Shahat and Ramadan Sobhy gave the hosts a two-goal lead they retained until Althar el Tahir reduced arrears eight minutes into stoppage time.

Etoile, the only club to win all five present and past CAF competitions, have six points, Ahly and Hilal three each and Platinum are pointless.

Elsewhere, Jackson Muleka and Achraf Bencharki also scored twice to ensure TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zamalek of Egypt of victories in the same section.

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Muleka netted in each half as five-time champions Mazembe won 2-1 away to Zesco United of Zambia in Lubumbashi and kept a perfect Group A record.

Moroccan Bencharki also scored either side of half-time as Zamalek, the other club to win the elite African club competition five times, overcame Primeiro Agosto of Angola 2-0 in Cairo.

– Perfect start –

The result gave new Zamalek coach Patrice Carteron from France a perfect start after Serb Milutin Sredojevic was fired following a three-goal hiding at Mazembe last weekend.

Mazembe have six points, Zamalek three and Zesco and Primeiro, both former Champions League semi-finalists, one each.

Defending champions Esperance of Tunisia are the third team with a two-win record in the group stage thanks to a 1-0 home victory over JS Kabylie of Algeria in Rades near Tunis.

The Group D encounter was settled by a 73rd-minute penalty which Anice Badri converted, while Hamza Banouh squandered a late chance to equalise.

Raja Casablanca, who have invested heavily in new players as they seek a first Champions League title since 1999, got back into contention with a 1-0 win over V Club in DR Congo.

Soufiane Rahimi struck the only goal three minutes into the second half to lift the Moroccan outfit to third, three points adrift of Esperance and behind Kabylie on goal difference.

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Former champions V Club share with Platinum the unwanted record of two losses and it is difficult to imagine either side achieving a top-two finish and reaching the quarter-finals.

In Group C, leaders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa ended a run of four away losses to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco during the past three seasons by forcing a 0-0 draw.

The other match in the section was also drawn with Zakaria Benchaa giving USM Alger of Algeria a second-half lead over Petro Luanda in Luanda and Antonio ‘Tony’ Ribeiro equalising.

Sundowns, the 2016 champions, have four points, twice trophy-holders Wydad and USM two each and Petro one.

The third series of matches in a competition worth $2.5 million  to the winners will be staged on December 27 and 28.

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