Blood and Gold complete semifinal line-up

Blood and Gold complete semifinal line-up
Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane celebrates goal during the CAF Champions League 2022/23 quarterfinal between Esperance and JS Kabylie at Rades Stadium, Tunis, Tunisia on 29 March 2023 ©Mehrez Toujani/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday Apr 30, 2023. 10:39

Esperance de Tunis completed the CAF Champions League semifinal line-up after they held JS Kabylie 1-1 (but won 2-1 on aggregate) at the Stade Hammadi Agrebi in Tunis on Saturday night.

The Blood and Gold join Mamelodi Sundowns, Wydad Casablanca and semifinal opponents Al Ahly in the final four of this edition of the CAFCL.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg in Algeria last weekend, the Tunisian hosts added to their overall advantage via Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, before a response from Adem Redjem, and secured a decisive progression – though the match was marred by fan riots which could lead to some kind of sanction from the Confederation of African Football.

A tight and tense first-half saw few chances for either team, though Esperance were the more proactive and aggressive in looking to add to their advantage from the first leg.

The Blood and Gold found some joy in working the ball left for Raed Bouchniba and Mohamed ben Hamida to put pressure on Kabylie right-back Oussama Gattal, who was booked for a clumsy foul midway through the first half.

The hosts forced two saves out of JSK goalkeeper Abderrahmane Medjadel, who kept out efforts from Mohamed Ali Ben Hammouda and Mootez Zaddem through the first half, ensuring the match remained goalless up to the half-time interval.

A riot at the stadium delayed the start of the second half for the better part of an hour, but once the match got back underway Esperance took control and claimed the lead four minutes after the kick-off.

Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane controlled a long ball out of defence, found space between two markers and sent a left-footed volley beyond the reach of Medjadel’s left hand to break the deadlock in favour of the hosts.

JSK looked to bring themselves back into the game by throwing on the likes of Adem Redjem, Noufel Ould Hamou and Redouane Zerdoum from the substitutes’ bench, and their persistence paid dividends in the 85th minute when Redjem picked up a rebound in the penalty area and fired home to give his side hope of a late rally.

The visitors threw everything they had at the Blood and Gold in what remained of the match, but the Tunisian hosts were able to hold out and secure a 2-1 aggregate triumph.

Esperance will face Al Ahly in the semifinals next month, after the Egyptian giants secured a 2-0 aggregate win over Morocco’s Raja Casablanca.

Esperance de Tunis (0) 1 (Ben Romdhane 49’)

JS Kabylie (0) 1 (Redjem 85’)

Esperance de Tunis won 2-1 on aggregate

Esperance: Ben Cherifa, Coulibaly, Tougai, Ben Romdhane (Ben Ali 77’), Amamou, Ben Hamida (Badri 76’), Zaddem (Fadaa 68’), Meriah, Bouchniba, Bougrine (Mehri 68’), Ben Hammouda

Kabylie: Medjadel, Djabri, Benzaid, Bouhakak, Gattal (Mouaki 87’), Oukaci, Guenina (Redjem 60’), Boumechra (Zerdoum 69’), Alili (Guemroud 83’), Boukenchouche (Ould Hamou 60’), Boualia

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