Zamalek clinched their fourth CAF Super Cup in an impressive fashion after a 3-1 win over Esperance Sportive de Tunis at the Al Gharafa stadium yesterday. The Egyptians giants were playing their first Super Cup match — which pits the winners of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup — since 2003, and they put on a relentless display in front of a packed crowd to take home the title.
Youssef Obama opened the scoring for Zamalek in just the second minute. Abdelraouf Benguit made it 1-1 by converting a penalty in the 54th minute but Zamalek were back in front just four minutes later thanks to Achraf Bencharki’s cool finish, and the forward once again struck in the injury time to cap a memorable night for the Cairo-based side.
For Esperance, it was another bitter pill to swallow as they lost a second consecutive Super Cup title clash, after having gone down to Moroccan side Raja Casablanca at the same venue 12 months ago. And it was Patrice Carteron, who came back to haunt them again. The French coach had led Casablanca to victory last year and he once again plotted Esperance’s downfall on the night.
The Tunisians – back-to-back winners of the CAF Champions League – have now gone without a Super Cup title since 1995, the only time they have won the title in five appearances. Zamalek’s Confederation Cup victory was their first continental silverware since winning the CAF Champions League 18 years ago, and looked like they are keen to make up for the lost time.
Carteron’s men were right on the money from the whistle, as Obama put Zamalek ahead in the second minute, the midfielder heading in a lovely cross from Mohamed Abdel-Shafy, with Esperance goalkeeper Ben Cherifia unable to do much.
It was a dream start for Zamalek as they were all over the Esperance side in the first ten minutes. The Tunisians had got first look at the rival goal in the 12th minute when Ilyes Chetti struck a fierce shot but Abdul Shafi was alert to the danger.
Four minutes later, however, Moustafa Mohamed went close to doubling Zamalek’s lead, but the forward’s dipping shot from close range went over the bar. Mohamed was in the thick of action again with a rasping curling attempt flying narrowly over the top of Cherifa’s goal.
Zamalek had another golden opportunity in the 39th minute with Zizo having acres of space at the back post to control and shoot – but Chetti got his body in the way to make a spectacular save.
While Zamalek were constant a threat on the counter-attack, Esperance found it difficult to break their opponents’ defence. Zamalek came to Qatar with a 12-match unbeaten streak, a run that stretched back to mid-December and included eight clean sheets.
But Esperance were let back into the game three minutes into the second half after Mahmoud Hamdi handled the ball in the box. Referee Victor Gomes initially waved to play on but changed his decision after a lengthy VAR review, where he went to the pitchside monitor to have a look.
Benguit thumped his spot-kick into the top corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. But their joy lasted barely four minutes. With the Esperance defence wide open, Bencharki had an easy run to the box, and the forward curled a low shot across Cherifia and into the bottom corner.
Esperance introduced striker Yassine Khenissi four minutes thereafter in place of Ghanaian Kwame Bonsu in pursuit of a comeback. But Mooine Chaabani’s could not get past the Egyptian team’s defence. Bencharki then completed his brace in added time with another cool finish to send Zamalek fans into raptures.
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