In their first appearance in the CAF Champions League group stage since 1997, Club Africain got off to a rough start after a 0-1 home to Algerian debutants, CS Constantine on Friday in Sousse in a Group B opener.
Due to maintenance work at the Rades Olympic Stadium, Club Africain where forced to play 140 Kilometres away in Sousse. But this did not deter their supporters from showing up in large numbers at the Meditteranean resort city.
It started well for Club Africain. They seemed to be on track and had the upper hand. Their first real test of their opponents was in the 30th minute when Ahmad Khalil nearly broke the deadlock but his shot was deflected to corner.
Yassine Chamakhi tried his luck seven minutes later but his effort was no trouble for the visitors rare.
Back from recess, Zouhaier Dhaouadi thought he had given the host the lead on 56 minutes, only for his effort to be flagged off.
With nine minutes remaining, Chamakhi was fouled in the forbidden area by Noureddine Zaalani and Africain was awarded a penalty. However, Chamakh failed to convert from the short distance to the dismay of the crowd.
On 88 minutes, the host paid the price for the penalty miss as Constantine broke the deadlock and the eventual match winner. Substitute Abdennour Belkhir infiltrated the host defence following after a precise pass from Kadour Belladjilali. Belkhir hit target with a low shot to seal the three points for Constantine.
Chiheb Ellili (Head Coach, Club Africain)
We weren’t inferior. We tried to find our balance in the game. We have seen Constantine play, they are a strong team. They are good at switching from defence to attack. They are fast and have great possession of the ball. We created more chances from set pieces, especially in the first half. We tried to play more offensively with our substitutions. We missed the chance to teak the lead with the penalty. We played with all the potential we had. The CAF Champions league is very competitive, especially at the group stage. We still have 5 more games and our objective is to go farther.
Ahmad Khalil (Midfielder, Club Africain)
We were much better than our opponent today. The group played very well. The wasted penalty played a very decisive role. We conceded a goal in the 89th minute from a counter attack. We need to re-evaluate ourselves. Our path has become more difficult. We still have a game away next week and we will try to get those points, work harder and avoid making the same mistakes we made today.
Denis Lavagne (Head Coach, CS Constantine)
It was a very intense game. Club Africain played very well in the first half but in the second half, they paid for the mistakes they made. Unfortunately for them, they wasted that penalty. We were successful with our goal after that. I believe we could have scored more especially with the good performance we gave in the second half. We did very well with an important away victory like today, we can hope to do better and go far.
Kadour Belladjilali (Midfielder, CS Constantine)
It was a difficult game. We got off to a bad start. In the second half, we managed to create more spaces. We were well positioned and better organised. We are very satisfied with the results. Three points in the first game of the group stage is very important for us.