Esperance Tunis will have the advantage of a full Rades stadium when they will be out to set things right against Zamalek, in attempting to come back from a 2-goal deficit to reach the CAF Champions League semifinals. The match is on Friday (6th Mar, 2020). Kickoff time is 2100 CAT.
Esperance Tunis Probable XI: Ben Cherifia – Derbali, Bedrane, Yacoubi, Mbarki – Coulibaly, Bonsu, Ben Choug – El Houni, Ouattara, Meziane (4-3-3)
Zamalek Probable XI: Abougabal – Emam, Alaa, El Wensh, Abdulshafi – Hamed, Sassi – Ounajem, Bencharki, Zizo – Mostafa (4-2-3-1)
CAF imposed sanctions on Esperance that will take effect immediately. Khalil Chammam is suspended for 6 matches, Benguit is suspended for 4 matches. Coach and assistant, Mouine Chaabani and Medji Traoui have a 4-match touchline ban. In addition to this, CAF imposed fines over misconduct in their CAF Champions League match against Zamalek.
What is at stake?
Esperance Tunis were undone by Zamalek and Patrice Carteron yet again. The 3-1 loss was also a third straight defeat for Taraji in CAF club football after having been undefeated for 20 matches.
The team is still doing well in the Tunisian league but questions are now being asked if, coach, Chaabani has hit the ceiling with this team. It would not be a surprise to see him dismissed if they are knocked out. Zamalek have definitely turned their fortunes for the better and are favorites to reach their first CAFCL semifinal since 2016.
What will the match be like?
The home team has been given approval to play in front of 60,000 fans in Rades. Yes, that is how things work in Tunisia. This will go some way to make up for losing Chetti and Ben Romdhane for this match. The latter was wrongfully sent off in the first leg match.
Leftback, Chetti is injured and his place will be taken by either Rabii or Mbarki now that Chemmam is suspended for 6 matches. Key man, Benguit has also been punished by CAF and the best way out will be to trust Fedi Ben Choug to step up in his place. Esperance Tunis are hoping Bedrane will be passed fit to start at center-back and that Abderrahmane Meziane will be mentally ready to start. Chaabani opted to start Hammouda in his place in the first leg. The coach will not be on the touchline for the match but he is not an in-game tactician. His effect will not be missed as most imagine.
On their part, Zamalek welcome back Youssef Obama. But Carteron will be tempted to field the same XI that won 3-1. They say you don’t change a winning team. Obama would have to be content with a substitute appearance.
Esperance fans are expecting a comeback not dissimilar to the one that won them the CAFCL, against Al Ahly, in 2018. They did not start that match aggressively but they will have to for this one. The host will also have to contend with the difference of Zamalek having a formidable attack. This will mean the key battle will be Zamalek’s counter attacking threat against Esperance’s defending.
Esperance Tunis 2-1 Zamalek
Esperance will definitely test Zamalek’s defence to its limit. But they will have to watch out for their own post too because of the White Knight’s quality in attack.