Esperance coach Tarek Thabet believes his side can still reach the African Football League final despite losing 1-0 to Wydad Casablanca in Sunday’s semi-final first leg.
Hicham Bousfiane’s second-half goal gave Wydad a narrow advantage to defend in this week’s return match in Tunisia. But Thabet feels Esperance showed enough quality to turn the tie around on home soil when they host the Moroccans on Wednesday night.
“The players made a great and correct effort. We lost 1-0 but frankly, we could have done more,” Thabet told the media after Sunday night’s match as quoted by CAFOnline.
Despite the defeat, Thabet took encouragement from aspects of Esperance’s performance at Stade Mohamed V. “In the first half we closed the doors to Wydad’s players and were able to score goals,” said the coach, adding: “Wydad were better than us in the second period when they scored. But we tried to come back after they scored.”
Thabet believes his side can summon the resilience required to bounce back into the cauldron of Stade Olympique de Rades this week. “Our players gave a strong performance. There is still the second leg in Tunisia and we can repeat the scenario against TP Mazembe,” he said.
With a vital away goal advantage, Wydad remains favourites to advance to the final against the victor of Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly. But Thabet issued a rallying cry to Esperance fans to recreate the raucous atmosphere that he feels inspired Wydad’s support in Casablanca.