Patrice Carteron, the French coach of Raja Casablanca of Morocco, said yesterday he would “forget about revenge” as he prepared his team for the CAF Super Cup against Esperance of Tunisia.
Carteron was repeatedly asked about his chances of gaining retribution against the team that spectacularly snatched victory in last November’s African Champions League final from Al Ahly, who the Frenchman coached at the time.
“I don’t have any feeling of revenge,” said Carteron, who led DR Congo giants TP Mazembe to three African Super Cup titles and the African Champions League title.
The former Lyon, Saint Etienne and Sunderland defender said defeat was part of the game sometimes.
“I won’t speak about revenge. This is part of football when you play Esperance who are the best African team at this point.”
Al Ahly lost the two-legged final despite securing a 3-1 victory in the first leg. They folded under the pressure of the second leg in Tunisia, losing 3-0 with the winner coming in the 86th minute.
Carteron was sacked within weeks of the defeat, and was appointed as Raja’s coach in January.
Al Gharafa Stadium will be the setting today for the CAF Super Cup showdown.
The Super Cup is an annual one-off match pitting the winner of the CAF Champions League and second-tier CAF Confederation Cup against each other.
Today’s match will be played in the 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar, the first time it has been played outside Africa.
Qatar Football Association officials are hopeful of a big crowd for the match, noting in a statement that Esperance and Raja have large followings in the Gulf state.
Esperance and Raja are among the giants of African football, winning six CAF titles apiece, including the most prestigious, the Champions League, three times each.
Saad Bguir was the two-goal star of the return match in Tunisia last year, but in Doha he may have to settle for a place on the bench, as he has done in recent Champions League matches.
Like virtually all successful African clubs, Esperance rely on a mix of local and foreign talent to ensure a steady flow of titles.
Apart from numerous Tunisian stars, coach Moine Chaabani can call on Cameroonian Franck Kom, Ivorian Fousseny Coulibaly, Algerian Youcef Belaili and Libyan Hamdou Elhouni.
Esperance travelled to Doha in good form after completing the group stage of their Champions League title defence unbeaten having won four matches and drawn two.
Raja have been less successful lately, failing to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Confederation Cup they won so impressively last season.
The Casablanca outfit won only one of six group matches, and the 4-1 thrashing of AS Otoho Oyo in Congo Brazzaville came too late to salvage a disappointing mini-league campaign.
Although Tunisia and Moroccan clubs are among the strongest in Africa, neither country has been particularly successful in the Super Cup.
Tunisian clubs have won three matches and lost eight and those from Morocco have also triumphed three times while failing five times.
Raja Casablanca coach Patrice Carteron (left) addresses a pre-match press conference yesterday.