27 May 2013

Tunisia Trophy Chase Hots Up

Tunis — Everyone thought the battle would be over by now, but Tunisia's top teams are fighting it out to the bitter end for the 2013 championship trophy.

In round 5 of the playoffs on Sunday (May 26th), home team CS Sfaxien defeated Etoile du Sahel 1-0 to lead the Tunisian L1 league with 10 points. Idriss Konaté scored the match's only goal in the 5th minute.

Esperance Tunis defeated Club Africain 1-0 in the capital derby on Sunday. Taraji beat their arch-rivals by the same score as the first leg match.

CA passed up several scoring opportunities, especially in the 5th minute, when Abdelmoumen Djabou came face to face with Esperance goalkeeper Moez Ben Chérifia.

Esperance managed to score the winning goal 9 minutes before time, although they rarely had scoring opportunities during the match. Hocine Ragued followed a ball that bounced from the left post of Club Africain and netted it home, giving his team a win that kept their hopes alive.

"We're still competing to win the title," Esperance's Samah Derbali said after the game. "The more important thing now is to win the next match."

The goal difference puts EST second, ahead of ES Sahel, even though they each have 9 points. Both teams are now waiting for table leaders CS Sfaxien to stumble in the last match.

On Wednesday, Esperance will play ES Sahel while CS Sfaxien will host Club Africain. If Sfaxien lose, the winners of the EST-ESS clash take the trophy.

Algeria's CHAN team beat guests Mauritania 1-0 in a friendly played Saturday (May 25th) in Blida. Islam Slimani scored the lone match goal in the 59th minute.

The Mourabitounes visit Senegal on June 22nd for their first CHAN qualifier, so the match provided a good opportunity for players to test their skills.

The Mauritanians held themselves together throughout the first half. They even created opportunities with free kicks in the 16th and 27th minutes.

Coach Patrice Neveu made some useful changes to his team.

The replacement of Mohamed Keita in the 28th minute with Bocar Coulibaly in defence enabled the team to achieve a better balance, thanks in particular to the strong presence of Mamadou Wade on both the left and the right.

Thanks to their good coverage of the midfield, with sterling play from Takiyoullah Denna, Mauritania were able to fight for every ball.

Although the players' commitment sometimes led them to make mistakes and earned them four yellow cards, a new spirit seemed to have taken hold throughout the team.

"My players applied the system that I asked them to and that's very positive for a team that is still in the process of being built up," Patrice Neveu said after the game.

"Algeria looked solid and it was a good test for us," he added.

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