Thursday May 20, 2021. 16:00
CR Belouizdad coach Zoran Manojlovic has warned of potential refereeing issues ahead of his team’s CAF Champions League second-leg, quarterfinal match away to Esperance de Tunis on Saturday evening.
CRB hold a 2-0 lead after triumphing in the first leg in Algiers last weekend, courtesy of goals from Zakaria Draoui and Amir Sayoud.
EST will be looking to overturn the deficit in the return game at the Olympic Stadium in Rades – a venue which does not hold happy memories for Manojlovic.
He was in charge of the Primeiro de Agosto team which took a 1-0 lead to Rades in the semifinals of the 2018 Champions League, but were ultimately beaten 4-2 (4-3 on aggregate) to exit the competition.
The Serbian felt that Esperance were the beneficiaries of several ‘home town’ decisions in that match, accusing Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe of bias. The referee in charge of this weekend’s game will be Bakary Gassama of the Gambia.
“We know what awaits us in Tunisia,” said Manojlovic, as quoted by Competition.DZ. “On the subject of refereeing, I will be very short. Go watch the semifinals match between EST against Primeiro de Agosto in 2018 and you will understand everything. I prefer to talk about the game now.”
The Belouizdad coach praised his players for their efforts thus far: “It was the hunger of the players that made the difference [in the first leg],” he explained.
“The players fought well physically and even psychologically. This desire has allowed us to make a difference.”
Manojlovic added, “We developed a strategy. We took advantage of the opponent’s mistakes. We wanted to score to push them out because we knew they would want to equalise.
“We chose this system so as not to cash in and it’s done. We told the players to make good use of the space and the evidence, we scored the second goal.
“We could even have scored a third. In any case, in view of the match, we can say that our strategy was the right one.”
Belouizdad will hope to come out on top overall and progress into the semifinals for the first time. The winner of this tie will face either Al Ahly or Mamelodi Sundowns in the final four.