Raja edge Esperance to CAF Super Cup glory


Moroccan side Raja Club Athletic made amends for their poor season at the continental level by beating Esperance of Tunisia 2-1 on Friday in Doha, Qatar, to win their second CAF Super Cup title.


Following their failure to defend the CAF Confederation Cup title, Raja captain Badr Benoun’s 65th minute back-heel strike decided the match seven minutes after Esperance substitute Youcef Belaili had canceled Abdelilah Hafidi’s first half lead.


The feat saw the Moroccans rewrite the script in the one-off match which has been dominated by the winners of the premier continental club championship. In the last 20 editions, it was yet another Moroccan side Maghreb Fes who last replicated the feat, again at the expense of Esperance in 2012. It is the third defeat suffered by the reigning African champions, the other in 1999 to Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas. The only triumph of the Blood and Gold was in 1995.


The first ever CAF Super Cup played outside Africa was surprisingly witnessed by a near capacity crowd at the Al Gharafa Stadium in the Qatari capital.


Raja dominated the first half capitalising on their better start with Soufiane Rahimi creating a lot of problems for the Esperance backline. Hafidi broke the broke the deadlock on 22 minutes, controlling a Mahmoud Benhalib pass before volleying past Esperance goalkeeper Rami Jeridi.


Midway, Rahimi missed a chance to solidify the lead of the Moroccans, as Jeridi had the better of him in a one-on-one situation.


Minutes later, Esperance forward Taha Khenissi missed a sitter to level matters but Raja goalie Anas Zniti saved the situation of for the Green Eagles.

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Esperance coach Moine Chaabani brought on Youcef Belaili and Iheb Mbarki after recess, and it paid dividends leading to the equalizer on 57 minutes. Mbarki squared Belaili who curled past Zniti t even the score.


Benoun led by example with a back-heel from a goalmouth action from a Sand Masaud assist to decide the match.


Esperance’s search for the equalizer remained fruitless as Raja cruised to their second title since 2000, when they beat Africa Sports of Cote d’Ivoire.


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