Moroccan outfit Hassania Agadir emerged victorious against Ethiopian champions Jimma Aba Jifar in Total CAF Confederation Cup playoff round first leg encounter Saturday in Addis Ababa.
Zouhir Chaouch's tremendous strike in the second half gave Hassania Agadir the edge as the tie ended 1-0 in favour of the visitors.
It was an evenly matched game between the two sides but the homers went very close to open the score few seconds following the onset. Ivorian striker Didier Lebri's cross rattled the cross bar. Hassania responded with attempts from set pieces. Centre back Yassine Rami's shot inside the area was saved by Aba Jifar's shot stopper Daniel Agyei nine minutes into the game.
The tie saw fewer scoring chances as both teams battle to take the domination in the middle of the park. Jimma Aba Jifar tried to unlock the very defensive Hassania with short passes whilst the visitors opted to use a swift ball movement and counter attacks that yielded them better scoring opportunities. Agyei was called to action at the half hour mark to deny Serbian import Miroslav Markovic's square pass.
Following the resumption, the homers looked to start stronger but the very organized defence and midfield of Hassania kept them at bay for the reminder of the match. Elias Mamo tried his luck from range in the 53rd minute but the ball went over the bar. Three minutes later, Agyei parried Badr Kachani's goal bound strike.
In the 65th minute El Mehdi Oubilla, could only see his shot getting blocked by the post.
Seven minutes later, Chaouch brilliantly struck from 25 meters out to hand Hassania Agadir a deserved and crucial lead in the race to qualify for the group stages.
The homers almost leveled matters through Mamadou Sidibe's curling effort sailed wide without causing any havoc to goalie Abderrahman El Houasli at the dying moments of the encounter.
Hassania set their sight on their first ever CAF Confederation Cup group stages while Jimma Aba Jifar, who happened to be struggling in the domestic front, now have a mountain to climb to overturn the result when the two sides lock horns in the second leg in Agadir.
Yussuf Ali (Assistant Coach, Jimma Aba Jifar)
We have injury setbacks that made us not to prepare in the best possible way. We were the better side in the first half. They (Hassania Agadir) were playing long balls. They were using the same strategy in the second half as we were trying to hold on to the ball. They have got one counter attack opportunity and they scored. We've seen how they fare so I am very confident that we will beat them in their own backyard.
Miguel Gamondi (Head Coach, Hassania Agadir)
Obviously, I am very happy with the performance of my team. We knew we would play a tough game. The condition of the pitch is not the best to play our usual game. The spirit of the team was fantastic. We came here to score goals. That was our main objective. Defensively, we were good too. I think it will be a magnificent achievement for the city of Agadir if we can qualify for the group stages.