There were mixed fortunes for Tunisia’s two clubs in the African Confederation Cup semi-final first legs on Sunday, as CS Sfaxien beat Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane 2-0 at home while Etoile du Sahel lost 1-0 away to Zamalek in Egypt.
Record three-time winners Sfaxien will take a two-goal advantage into the second leg thanks to goals from Alaa Marzouki and captain Hamza Mathlouthi.
Etoile, who have won the Confederation Cup twice, fell to a Mahmoud Kahraba goal in Alexandria.
The five titles won by Sfaxien and Etoile makes Tunisia the most successful country in the 16-year history of the competition followed by Morocco with four victories.
In Sfax, Marzouki won possession after 29 minutes to launch an attack that ended with him heading a Houssem Dagdoug cross past Berkane goalkeeper Abdelali Mhamdi for the lead.
The advantage was increased to two goals just two minutes into the second half when Ismail Mokadem fouled Algerian Nadhir Korichi and Mathlouthi calmly converted the spot-kick.
Berkane came closest to snatching a goal with 10 minutes left when Burkina Faso centre-back Issoufou Dayo nodded wide after a corner.
In Alexandria, Zamalek triumphed thanks to a 36th-minute goal from Kahraba, but would have hoped for a wider winning margin before travelling to Tunisia.
Etoile captain Yassine Chikhaoui was dispossessed just outside his penalty area and the ball broke to Kahraba, who hammered it across goalkeeper Makram Bediri into the far corner.
Etoile came close to equalising twice during the second half at the 86,000-seat Borg el Arab Stadium.
A diving close-range header from Iheb Msakni flew just wide and Zamalek goalkeeper Mahmoud ‘Gennesh’ Abdel Rahim later blocked a scuffed shot from Chikhaoui.
Berkane and Etoile will host the return matches next Sunday, with the two-leg final scheduled for 19 and 26 May.