|The win means Esperance will now represent Africa in December’s Club World Cup [EPA]|
Defender Harrison Afful scored the winning goal as Tunisian side Esperance held on to beat 10-man Wydad Casablanca 1-0 on Saturday to win the African Champions League for the second time.
Afful scored in the 21st minute of the final in Tunisia, cutting inside before shooting powerfully past Wydad goalkeeper Yassine Bouno – who replaced veteran first-choice goalie Nadir Lamyaghri after he got injured at training on Tuesday.
Esperance last won the tournament in 1994, while the Moroccan team’s previous win was in ’92.
The two North Africa teams drew the first leg 0-0 in Casablanca last week.
Wydad’s chances were dealt a blow when Mourad Lemsen was sent off moments before the interval for a crude challenge on striker Yannick N’Djeng.
Esperance were thrashed 6-1 on aggregate by four-time champion TP Mazembe of DR Congo in last year’s final.
Esperance also lost the final in 1999 on penalties to Raja Casablanca of Morocco and the following year to Ghanaian team Hearts of Oak.
But this time the 50,000 fans at Stade 7 November in Rades had cause to celebrate.
After his goal, Afful went on another surging run down the right in the 28th and set up Oussama Darragi inside the penalty area but his shot was well wide.
Wydad missed a great chance to equalise in the 32nd when striker Fabrice Ondama was clean through but saw his shot kicked away by Esperance goalie Moez Ben Cherifa.
N’Djeng and Afful were causing problems for Wydad’s defence, but Cherifa was largely untroubled for the rest of the first half.
The 20-year-old Cherifa looked nervous as Wydad started the second half strongly, and he was relieved to see his defence hack the ball clear after he’d spilled a cross, with Ondama lurking.
Esperance finally won a corner midway through the second half, but defender Yaya Banana failed to get enough power on his header.
Bouno then made a fine save with his feet to deny N’Djeng in the 77th, but Esperance spent the last 10 minutes holding on.