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CAF CL: Five-star Raja turn the style on debutants Vipers

Moroccan giants Raja Club Athletic hammered Ugandan champions Vipers SC 5-0 as the latter endured a humbling welcome into the group stages of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League on Friday night.

The Venoms are playing the group phase for the first time ever, and it wasn’t the start they envisaged as they endured a humbling debut at the Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca.

Hamza Khabba, Jamal Harkass, Mohamed Zrida, Yousri Bouzouk and Roger Aholou had a goal each as Raja kicked off their campaign with an emphatic victory that puts them comfortably in charge, top of Group C.

A string of goalkeeping howlers from Vipers custodian Alfred Mudekereza saw Raja get a 2-0 lead within the opening 11 minutes of the game.

In the fifth minute, the goalkeeper let in a seemingly harmless looping header from Khabba after the latter rose just inside the box to connect to a cross from the right.

Six minutes later, his handling of a freekick was messy, pushing it into the feet of a Moroccan forward who struck against the bar. The rebound fell kindly on Harkass who made no mistake from a few yards out to tap into an empty net.

Vipers had conceded twice, even before testing the opposing keeper Anas Zniti. They landed their first effort on target after 34 minutes when Martin Kizza curled a freekick from his left foot, but it ended up in a routine save for Zniti.

Four minutes later, it was 3-0 when Zrida scored with a first time shot after a well weighted cutback from Harkass found him well placed in the box.

With a three-goal cushion at the break, Raja were comfortable. Vipers started the second half with some pace, but they couldn’t hold on for long.

Raja made it 4-0 in the 59th minute when Bouzouk got his goal with a little dink over the keeper after being put through by Khabba.

Aholou then completed the job for the home side with 20 minutes to go, a low shot from the edge of the box perching into the bottom left after a cross from the left was deflected to his feet. Raja continued to dominate possession, keeping the ball well and passing around the pack.

They held onto the healthy lead for a win that will see them approach the next round of matches with some ease.


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