African giants progress to finale
Esperance de Tunis stage dramatic late comeback to beat Primeiro de Agosto
Al Ahly made to sweat before seeing off ES Setif
The Tunisian and Egyptian clubs will now face off in the CAF Champions League final
Tuesday’s CAF Champions League semi-final second legs saw two of the biggest names in African club football advance to the continental finale. Esperance de Tunis came out on top against Primeiro de Agosto in a tie full of twists and turns, while Al Ahly were pushed all the way by a valiant ES Setif side that refused to give up.
Esperance de Tunis 4-2 Primeiro de Agosto (Esperance win 4-3 on aggregate)
Stade Olympique de Rades, 23 October
Goals: Youssef Belaili (16’, pen), Mohamed Ali Yaakoubi (27'), Haythem Jouini (73'), Anice Badri (85') for Esperance de Tunis; Geraldo (8'), Mongo Bokamba (64') for Primeiro de Agosto
Esperance de Tunis had their fans experiencing every emotion en route to securing a place in the final of African football’s premier club competition.
Trailing 1-0 after the first leg, Les Sang et Or (Blood and Gold) found themselves 2-0 down on aggregate after only eight minutes. Belaili’s penalty brought them back into the tie before Ali Yaakoubi put them ahead on the night. The Angolan club hit back again midway through the second half, scoring against the run of play to take the aggregate lead once more.
Piling the pressure on, the Tunisians pulled level through Jouini before Badri struck the winner five minutes from time, sending his side through to the final for the first time in six years and the Stade Olympique de Rades crowd into raptures.
ES Setif 2-1 Al Ahly (Al Ahly win 3-2 on aggregate)
Stade du 8-Mai-1945, 23 October Goals: Mohamed Islam Bakir (67'), Houssameddine Guecha (72') for ES Setif; Walid Soliman (61') for Al Ahly
Facing an experienced, organised and disciplined Al Ahly side, ES Setif played with plenty of energy in a first half largely controlled by the visitors and had to wait for chances to materialise.
Unable to take them, they fell further behind on aggregate when Walid Soliman struck on the hour mark. Left with a seemingly impossible task, the Algerians pulled a goal back through the ever willing Bakir before Abdelmoumene Djabou set up Guecha to put them ahead on the night.
Though the hosts threw everything they had at the Egyptian side in the closing minutes, the visitors’ defence held firm.
The winners of the CAF Champions League will represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup, to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 12-22 December.