Soccer News of Sunday, 18 November 2012
Ghana defender Harrisson Afful watched from the stands as his Esperance side failed to defend their African title after losing 2-1 at home to Al Ahly on Saturday.
The Blood and Gold were beaten 3-2 on aggregate in the 2012 CAF Champions League final.
Afful missed the final match due to yellow-card accumulation.
Esperance had forced to a 1-1 draw two weeks ago in the first clash in Alexandria and so were favourites to complete the job at home and secure a back-to-back triumph.
Star striker Youssef Msakni passed a late fitness test after an appendicitis operation and started for Esperance
The first half did not have much in the way of goal-mouth action, but the visitors saw the better of the play and took a deserved lead on 43 minutes through Mohamed ‘Geddo’ Nagui.
A good run down the right set up Geddo to slot past Esperance goalie Moez Ben Charifia.
It was 2-0 just past the hour-mark, Walid Soliman getting the goal for Ahly after he scooped the ball off Ben Mansour’s head before firing past Ben Charifia.
That left Esperance essentially needing to score three times to win and that always seemed an unlikely scenario.
They did pull a goal back six minutes from time when Yannick Ndjeng netted for Esperance, tapping home after a low cross from the right.
Ahly had the chance to make the score even more emphatic when Ben Charifia was penalized for a double-foot tackle against Dominique Da Silva, but the keeper saved Mohamed Aboutreika’s spot-kick.
The miss mattered not and Ahly were left to celebrate their latest continental triumph, while Esperance will wonder why they could not fire in this their biggest game of the year.