Esperance coach vows to bounce back in Tunisia following 1-0 loss to Wydad in AFL semis

Mahmoud Elassal , Monday 30 Oct 2023

Esperance coach Tarek Thabet remains optimistic about his team's chances of reaching the African Football League (AFL) final, despite a 1-0 defeat against Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the semifinals.

Esperance coach Tarek Thabet. CAF


Thabet is confident that his side can turn the tables on their opponents when they host them in the second leg on Wednesday.

"With spirit and will we can qualify in the return match; now we just have to recover," Thabet told the media after Sunday night's match.

The match, held at the Mohamed V Sports Complex on Sunday, saw Esperance succumbing to a narrow 1-0 loss against Wydad.

However, Thabet was quick to highlight his team's strong performance, particularly in the second half.

He expressed satisfaction with their overall display, emphasizing that they were the superior side after the break.

"Our players gave a strong performance. There is still the second leg in Tunisia and we can repeat the scenario against TP Mazembe," Thabet said.

He also acknowledged a missed scoring opportunity but remained resolute, citing the support of their fans and the advantage of playing at home as factors that could help them bounce back in Tunisia.

Wydad's Hicham Boussefiane netted the decisive goal in the 58th minute, granting his team an advantage heading into the second leg.

Should Esperance secure a spot in the final, they will face the winner of the semifinal clash between Egypt's Ahly and South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns. In the first leg, Sundowns emerged victorious with a 1-0 scoreline.

The AFL, a collaborative effort between the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA, showcases eight teams from across the continent, including TP Mazembe from DR Congo, Esperance from Tunisia, Enyimba from Nigeria, and Wydad from Morocco.

The AFL champions will be rewarded with a prize of $4 million, the highest payout among continental club competitions.

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