Doha, Qatar: The beauty and power of African football will on display at Al Gharafa Stadium in Doha on Friday, when Tunisian side Esperance Sportive de Tunis take on Zamalek of Egypt in the CAF Super Cup.
Two-time defending CAF Champions League winners Esperance are looking to win their second Super Cup title, having failed to do so last year in their latest attempt when they lost to Moroccan side Raja Casablanca at the same venue.
With four CAF Champions League titles and one in each of CAF Super Cup and the defunct CAF Cup Winners’ Cup and CAF Cup Espérance are undoubtedly among the elite of Africa although they have won the Super Cup title only once, in their first attempt back in 1995.
Magdy Traoui, the assistant coach of Esperance, said the team have learnt from last year’s failure and are keen to take the trophy back to Tunisia.
“We were closest to winning the title last year, but we did not win it. We have prepared the players psychologically and we want to play at a good level against Zamalek,” he said yesterday.
“Esperance have not won the title for a long time, so there will be some pressure but we are used it. We are fully prepared to play the game with our full strength and have a great desire to win. It won’t be easy against Zamalek,” he added.
Esperance often start with as many as seven non-Tunisians, including four Algerians, although star defender Abdelkader Bedrane will be absent due to injury.
Though Zamalak qualified for the annual one-off match pitting the winners of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup by winning the latter which is the second-tier competition of the continent, they have won three Super Cup titles - in 1994, 1997 and 2003.
Zamalek coach Carteron said his team had little time to prepare for the contest, due to a busy domestic schedule but was hopeful his players can rise to the challenge.
“It is difficult to talk about our readiness for this important match, because we have played a game every three days. We did not prepare specifically for this match, but from a technical side we are ready. The players are motivated for the match and we are so happy to be here,” he said.