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African Champions League 2014 - group stage - Esperance suffer second defeat

The two-time African Champions League winners Esperance are in serious trouble after just two group games in this season's competition. The Tunisians suffered a second successive defeat, losing 3:2 to Libyans Al-Ahly Benghazi in Group B.

Al Ahly Bengazi triumphed over Esperance despite having to forfeit home advantage because of civil unrest and play in the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax. Zimbabwean Edward Sadomba, Farag Mbarak and Nigerian Moses Orkuma were the Benghazi marksmen while Ahmed Akaichi and Oussama Darragi (pictured) scored for Esperance.

Defeat leaves Esperance without a single point at the bottom of Group B while Benghazi are third with three points. The Tunisians made a disastrous debut last weekend, slumping 2:1 at home to fellow former title-holders Algerians Entente Setif. 

Al Ahli Benghazi, who eliminated defending champions Egyptians Al-Ahly in a qualifier, lost their first game 3:1 to CS Sfaxien at the ground where they shocked Esperance. Entente Setif host record three-time CAF Confederation Cup winners Sfaxien later on Sunday in a top-of-the-table match.

Esperance were outstanding in the qualifying stage, scoring 12 goals as they brushed off Kenyans Gor Mahia and Malians Real Bamako but have struggled in the group phase. The Benghazi 'Butchers' were two goals ahead within 12 minutes at Stade Taieb Mhiri through Sadomba and Mbarak. Cameroonian Yannick N'Djeng wasted a chance to half the deficit before Ahmed Akaichi scored on 20 minutes for the 'Blood and Gold'. 

The Tunisians thought they had levelled soon after only for Darragi to be flagged offside and Benghazi regained a two-goal advantage via Orkuma before half-time. The Libyans were on the back-foot for much of the second half and held off repeated Esperance assaults until 11 minutes from time when Darragi netted. But the Tunisians could not unlock the Libyan defence again and Krol and his squad have much to do before their June date with CS Sfaxien.

Egyptian side Zamalek secured their first win of their Group A campaign, with defender Mohamed Abdul-Shafy the unlikely star as they edged Sudanese club Al-Hilal 2:1 in a game staged behind closed doors in Cairo for security reasons.

Zamalek coach and former Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham striker 'Mido' had outlined the importance of the match before kick-off. What he could never have imagined, though, was a defender displaying exquisite skills to earn the 'White Knights' maximum points.

Abdul-Shafy provided breathtaking edge-of-the-box ball control as he shifted the ball from one foot to the other before hammering a low shot into the net for the winner eight minutes from time. He also created the early opening goal for Mauritania-born Dominique da Silva. Eltaib had equalised for Al-Hilal midway through the opening half.

Zamalek needed a victory having lost at Democratic Republic of Congo outfit Vita in the first group game while Hilal won their opener at home to another Congolese side, TP Mazembe.

The other fixtures on Sunday pit TP Mazembe against rivals AS Vita Club in Lubumbashi Their last match ended in tragedy. Fifteen people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at the sides' league decider at the Tata Raphael Stadium in Kinshasa which Mazembe won 1:0.

 

Group A     
• 24.05.2014: Zamalek vs Al Hilal 2:1 
• 25.05.2014: TP Mazembe vs AS Vita Club -:-

Group B 
• 24.05.2014: Al Ahli Benghazi vs Esperance 3:2 
• 25.05.2014: Entente Setif vs CS Sfaxien -:-

 

 

25 May 2014
(BBC Sport UK)

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