Tuesday Aug 20, 2019. 17:30
Tunisia get their new season underway this weekend, just a week after the cup final where CS Sfaxien brought the curtain down on the last campaign by edging champions Esperance on post-match penalties.
But it will be a muted start for the new Ligue 1 season as the top contenders will not be in action straight away.
Esperance, perennial challengers Etoile Sahel, Ben Guerdane and CA Bizerte have had their games postponed because of participation in continental club competition.
Esperance, declared African champions just weeks back after winning their court action against Wydad Casablanca and the Confederation of African Football, play in the Arab Club Champions Cup in Lebanon on Thursday while Bizerte are in Morocco in the same competition in a mini playoff group.
Also this weekend, Etoile Sahel are in African Champions League action at home against Hafia of Guinea while Ben Guerdane have a 5-1 lead over Amarat United of South Sudan in the African Confederatioin Cup.
All those clubs with then only play their first league next week, leaving just three games to be played this weekend and mark the kickoff of the new campaign.
There should not much change to the pecking order in Tunisian football. Esperance go in search of a fourth successive title with Etoile attempting to again topple them.
The champions will start on Tuesday at home to Bizertin while Etoile do not get their league campaign underway until Wednesday, August 28 when they host AS Monastir.
In 2017, Esperance won by four points and in 2018 by nine points from Etoile. The gap between the two in mid-June when they completed the 2018-19 season was two points.
Esperance have sold the London-born winger Ayman Ben Mohamed, who competed at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt to Le Havre in France’s Ligue 2.
Teammate Youssef Belaili, a member of Algeria’s winning team, is also set to go to France.
Any advance that Etoile Sahel might have got is offset by the fact they start without veteran striker Yassine Chikhaoui, who underwent surgery this week and is likely out for three months.