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Aribi lifts CAF CL goal haul to nine and eyes record

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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.

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.

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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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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