USMA are CAF Confederation Cup champions

USMA are CAF Confederation Cup champions
Salum Abubakar Salum of Young Africans and Messala Merbah of USM Alger during the CAF Confederation Cup 2022/23 Final, second leg between USM Alger and Young Africans at the 5 July Stadium in Algiers, Algeria on 03 June 2023 @BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Jun 03, 2023. 23:20

Despite a 1-0 defeat to Young Africans at Stade du 5 Juillet in Algiers on Saturday night, USM Alger have won the 2022-23 CAF Confederation Cup.

The Algerian hosts came into the return leg of the final as clear favourites to claim the title, thanks to their 2-1 win in the first leg in Tanzania last weekend, but Yanga took the victory on the night thanks to an early penalty from Djuma Shabani.

The result left the tie 2-2 on aggregate, but USMA won on the away goals rule to secure a first continental title in their history, and become the first Algerian team to win the CAFCC.

Young Africans were awarded a penalty in just the fifth minute, as Saadi Radouani clumsily pushed down Kennedy Musonda in the box. Djuma Shabani expertly sent a shot into the top corner from the spot for 1-0 in favour of the visitors on seven minutes.

In response, USMA struggled to find an attacking rhythm, with their only notable highlights in the opening half-hour a wayward long-range shot from Tumisang Orebonye and a desperate penalty appeal from Aymen Mahious.

In the 31st minute the hosts created their first clear scoring chance, with Khaled Bousseliou’s chip into the penalty area finding the head of Mahious, but he put his effort wide of the mark.

Yanga could have doubled their advantage on the night shortly thereafter, with Fiston Mayele controlling a long pass into the box and being faced with only the goalkeeper to beat, but Adim Alilet made a brilliant recovery challenge.

USMA almost levelled the game in injury time before the interval, with Islam Merili teeing Bousseliou up to shoot on goal from the edge of the box, but Yanga goalkeeper Djigui Diarra made an excellent save to see his side 1-0 up at the break.

Eleven minutes into the second half came a potential turning point, with Yanga’s Ibrahim Hamad slightly mis-timing a challenge on Orebonye to give away a penalty. However, USMA skipper Zineddine Belaid saw his spot kick saved by Diarra, who also kept out a follow-up effort from Mahious, to see his team remain 1-0 up on the night.

As the second half wore on, USMA somewhat withdrew their attacking intent and looked to control the game via possession and time-wasting, knowing that they were on course for the trophy provided they denied Young Africans a second goal.

And the Tanzanian side never really provided a genuine threat, as they struggled to build momentum and take advantage of any nerves that may have afflicted USMA, even in the dying minutes of the match.

This allowed the hosts to see out the game before celebrating a famous triumph in front of their vociferous fans.

USM Alger 0

Young Africans (1) 1 (Shabani 7’ pen)

2-2 on aggregate, USMA won the tie on the away goals rule

USMA: Benbot, Loucif, Alilet, Belaid, Radouani, Bousseliou (Belkacemi 74’), Merili, Chita, Merbah (Meziane 46’), Mahious (Benkhelifa 90+5’), Orebonye

Yanga: Diarra, Shabani (Moloko 90+6’), Hamad, Mwamnyeto, Job, Mudathir (Mzize 84’), Salum, Kisinda (Morrison 62’), Mutambala (Mussa 84’), Musonda (Azizi 72’), Mayele

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