CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Udoh’s Hat-trick Sinks Etoile du Sahel

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Femi Solaja with agency report

Last Nigerian team standing in continental campaign this season, Enyimba FC of Aba on Sunday boosted Its chances of reaching the money spinning CAF Champions League group stage as Mfon Udoh’s hat-trick put Etoile du Sahel to the sword in the second round first-leg game in Port Harcourt. Mfon proved too hot to handle for the visitors as he netted his first African treble against an Etoile side reduced to 10 men in the second half after Ghazi Abderazek was sent off.

Faouzi Benzarti’s side came into yesterday’s clash in the Garden City knowing full well a victory or draw by any scoreline would put them in pole position to reach the group stage of the championship. Udoh began his harvest of goals in the sixth minute when he converted from the penalty spot after Joseph Osadiaye was brought down in the penalty area of the Tunisians. Four minutes later, Christian Pyagbara almost doubled his side’s lead after shooting from a tight angle but the goalkeeper did well to save it for a corner kick for the People’s Elephants.

Pyagbara somehow failed to convert a cross from the left before Udoh headed over the crossbar in a lively opening 20 minutes. The balance of power shifted totally from Etoile du Sahel after the break when Ghazi Abdelrazak was shown a second yellow card. The Nigerians began to put clear daylight between themselves and their opponents as Udoh got his second goal of the evening for his sixth CAF Champions League strike. And with ten minutes left to play, the fantastic forward powered in a third. Etoile could even have gotten a consolation as they caused the hosts all kinds of trouble with their quick counter-attacks but were not successful.

The Tunisians now face a tough task to turn things around when both sides meet again at the Stade Olympique de Sousse. The tie is a repeat of the 2004 final that Enyimba eventually won on penalties after both legs had finished 2-1 to the home team. Elsewhere yesterday, Uganda goalkeeper Dennis Onyango had kept Sundowns in the game in Kinshasa with some fine saves as Vita Club’s Ghanaian star Bernard Morrison proved a handful. The only goal of the game was scored in injury time at the end of the game as Morrison was once again given too much time and while his shot was well saved by Onyango his parry fell to Kule Mbombo, who scored.

Vita’s compatriots TP Mazembe have a tough task if they are to defend their title after a 2-0 loss on Saturday at Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca. Abdellatif Noussir scored his first goal of the campaign just before half-time for Wydad and Reda Hajhouj converted a penalty midway through the second half in Marrakech. Coached by twice Real Madrid manager John Toshack, Wydad are attempting to win the competition a second time, having previously succeeded in 1992. Mazembe are chasing a sixth title, which would make them the second most successful club after eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt.

‪NPFL Match Day 11 results
Rangers 1-0 FC IfeanyiUbah
Ikorodu Utd 0-0 Sunshine Stars
El-Kanemi 2-0 Shooting Stars
Kano Pillars 2-1 Nasarawa Utd
Plateau Utd 2-0 Giwa FC
Warri Wolves 1-0 MFM FC
Akwa Utd 2-0 Niger Tornadoes
Heartland 2-1 Rivers Utd
*Abia Warriors 1-0 Lobi Stars
(Game continues 10am tomorrow after being called off due to waterlogged pitch)