An away 1-0 victory gave Esperance a huge boost towards the CAF Champions League final, but coach Nabil Maaloul has stressed that the job isn’t done yet.
“We’re elated and pleased with the result, but l told my players we can’t celebrate as yet because there’s still more hard work ahead and a second leg tie to play,” he said after the game.
Youssef Msakni scored the visitors’ winner to edge the Tunisian giants closer to their second straight final.
Maaloul, however, is trying to keep players’ feet on the ground to avoid any surprises in the return leg.
“It’s only one goal and Hilal has played well on their travels, holding Enyimba in Nigeria to a 2-2 draw - so Esperance has to respect them and be cautious.
“We’ve done ourselves a huge favour, but we still need to finish the job when we play the second leg back in Tunis,” concluded Maaloul.
Micho close to the exit door
The home defeat is likely to cost Serbian tactician Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic his job at Hilal if the local media is to be believed.
According to Goan Sport, the board is set to relegate Micho to the youth teams and name Ahmed Adam as caretaker coach.
Talking about the game, the Serbian said: “Our plan was to prevent Esperance from scoring, but that plan went up in smoke with the early goal. Esperance have been the best team so far in this competition.
“They still have a slim chance of turning the tables in the second leg match in Tunis,” he added. “But nothing is impossible in football.”