CS Sfaxien coach Mrad Mahjoub has praised the dedication and sacrifice of his players after the Tunisian club celebrated reaching their first African Champions League final on Saturday.
The veteran coach, fired a year ago by Tunisian champions Esperance after their CAF Champions League group phase exit, said their total focus on the task had helped Sfax overcome South Africa's Orlando Pirates in their semi-final.
"I want to congratulate my players for their application and their sacrifice which led to the win over Pirates," said Mahjoub. "We passed the ball well, held possession and pinned our opponents in their own half. We have sacrificed a lot since the start of the season, neglecting our league form, to keep up our chances of getting to the final of the Champions League."
Sfaxien had done much of the work in the first leg in Johannesburg last month, gaining a goalless draw and a crucial advantage in the return leg. However, A 40th minute goal by Tarek Ziadi in the second leg in Sfax ensured a 1-0 aggregate victory and a continuation of their fairytale run in Africa's top club competition. Ziadi was the quickest to react after Pirates' goalkeeper Avril Phadi failed to hold onto a powerful shot from Joetex Frimpong.
Indeed, it was only the excellent goalkeeping of Phadi which restricted the Tunisians to a single goal over the two matches. In Saturday's match alone Ziadi and Frimpong were frustrated time and time again as Pirates spent the majority of the match camped inside their own half.
However, the night also belonged to the passionate fans of CS Sfaxien who have now witnessed their team emerge from the shadows of their most successful Tunisian counterparts, Esperance and Etoile Sahel.