Tunisian coach hopes for change of fortunes

Club Africain vs Fes, first leg
Club Africain's Alexis Mendomo (L) vies for the ball with Fes striker Abdelhadi Halhoul during the first leg in Tunis

Coach Faouzi Benzarti is hoping to lift the Confederation Cup on Sunday 12 months after suffering the greatest humiliation of his 32-year career.

His Club Africain side defend a slender 1-0 lead away to Moghreb Fes of Morocco in the second leg of this year's final.

While a precarious lead, it is far from the mission-impossible situation 61-year-old Benzarti faced a year ago in the Champions League final.

He saw his side Esperance thrashed 5-0 by TP Mazembe of the DR Congo.

Benzarti quit soon after the drawn return match and took charge of Club Africain in the middle of this year, desperate to regain his pride on the international stage.

Esperance bounced back to win the Champions League last month and success for Club Africain would complete a second continental clean sweep for the North African country within five seasons.

"I am satisfied with the first leg result and it was very important that we kept a clean sheet at home," said Benzarti.

He added: "We sought an early goal to raise our confidence and got it.

"We can achieve a good result in Morocco and win the trophy despite the fact that our opponents are very strong and proved difficult opponents in the first match.

"My players tried to score more goals but it was not easy against a good and experienced side who attacked even after being reduced to 10 men in the second half."

Victory for the Tunisian side would also end a 20-year African trophy drought since they trounced Nakivubo Villa of Uganda 7-3 over two legs in the final of the old Champions Cup - forerunner to the Champions League.

Club Africain defeated first-time finalists Moghreb despite lacking two key figures.

Aymen Soltani was injured and Chad-born fellow striker Ezechiel Ndouassel suspended, taking some sting out of an attack.

Club Africain boast one proud record ahead of the return match at the 45,000-capacity Fes Sports Complex - they scored in all five away games en route to the final.

Moghreb are hoping to emulate compatriots FUS Rabat, shock winners of the second-tier club competition last year by winning 3-2 at Tunisian outfit CS Sfaxien after a goalless first encounter.

"The final is played in two halves and we will do our best to turn the tables at home and celebrate winning the Cup with our fans," said Moghreb coach Rachid Taoussi.

Whatever the outcome, it will serve to confirm the dominance of Tunisia (three titles) and Morocco (two) in the seven Confederation Cup finals with the other victorious clubs coming from Ghana and Mali.

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