AS Vita edge Sfaxien for final place

AS Vita edge Sfaxien for final place
28 September 2014 07:28

AS Vita stunned favourites CS Sfaxien with a 2-1 win on Saturday in Sfax to book their place in the final of the 2014 Orange CAF Champions League.

The DR Congo side came from behind courtesy a goal in each half by Issoufou Dayo and Yunus Sentamu to secure victory after Zied Derbali had put the Tunisians in the lead mid-way into the opening half.

The Kinshasa-based club advanced 4-2 on aggregate and will face either rivals TP Mazembe or ES Setif of Algeria in next month’s final.

It is the first time since 1981 that ‘the Black Dolphins’ had reached the final of a major continental club championship. The Congolese will go on to lose 5-0 on aggregate to Algerian side, JS Kabylie in the decisive match of the premier club competition.

Since winning the title in 1973, AS Vita has been unsuccessful at laying their hands on a continental silverware, but their impressive turnout this season had led them closer to breaking that jinx.

Sfaxien thus has failed in their bid to win successive African club titles following their 2013 triumph in the CAF Confederation Cup.

A lone goal victory would have been ideal for the Tunisians, but they were given probably their biggest test so far by the unfancied Congolese side.

The hosts got off to a promising start in the encounter that saw AS Vita goalie, Nelson Lukong table a man-of-the-match performance with some timely saves.

As early as the 13th minute, Sfaxien came close to breaking the deadlock but Ferdjani Sassi failed to connect captain Ali Maaloul’s cross from the left.

Five minutes later, Lukong denied Bassem Boulaabi by saving with his feet before the rebound from Maher Hannachi came off the crossbar to the relief of the visitors.

On 24 minutes, Lukong was punished for handling the ball leading to an indirect free-kick in the penalty area, and Derbali shot into the net for the opener, and set the Taieb Mhiri Stadium agog.

Lukong was again to his side’s rescue by parrying wide Derbali’s shot on 39 minutes from a Maaloul free-kick.

On the stroke of half time, the visitors drew level through Dayo, who headed in from Guy Lusadisu set piece to keep them in contention.

The Congolese, who allowed the Tunisians to do most of the playing in the opening half, resumed on a purposeful note taking control of the midfield.

On 55 minutes, a blunder by defender Boulaabi gifted the ‘Black Dolphins’ the second goal. Hard pressed Boulaabi headed back to goalkeeper Rami Jeridi but Sentamu intercepted the pass, beat onrushing Jeridi before firing into the yawning net.

The second goal by the visitors took the game beyond their hosts who now needed to score four goals to go through.

French coach of Sfaxien, Philippe Troussier brought Ghazi Challouf and Ivorian Patrick Kouakou to strengthen his forward line, but they struggled to find their way past Lukong.

On 68 minutes, Lukong parried out a long shot from Ibrahima Ndong to the dismay of the crowd.

Seven minutes later, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who had a quiet game trapped a long pass from Wassim Kassoum before lobbing over Lukong, but it missed target narrowly.

On 84 minutes, Lukong palmed away substitute Imed Louati’s header and was at his agility best with timely saves in the latter stages.

Not even five minutes of added-on time was enough for Sfaxien, who tasted their first loss at home in recent times.


Fixtures and Results

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