Frenchman Philippe Troussier makes a return to African football for the first time since 2005 as he guides CS Sfaxien in this weekend’s Tunisian derby against Esperance.
Nicknamed “White Witch Doctor”, Troussier was a household name on the continent in the 1990’s after stints with clubs such as ASEC Mimosas, Kaizer Chiefs and FUS Rabat, and also in charge of national sides including Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Burkina and South Africa.
His brief spell with the Morocco national team in 2005 was his final before journeying to Asia where had stints with Japanese lower division outfit, FC Ryūkyū and until recently Shenzhen Ruby of China.
The 59-year old has had relative success in his previous stints but faces a huge task at the helm of Sfaxien, enjoying one of their best spells in recent times and hoping to lay their hands on the most prestigious title in African club football for the first time in their history.
The Frenchman has been in charge of the Sfax-based side for barely weeks and signs off his new job in an unlikely manner, against rivals Esperance in the opening game of the second round of the 2014 Orange CAF Champions League group phase.
Sfaxien lost the reverse fixture last June 2-1, and are very much aware of the implications any result other than the maximum points will do to their chances of progress.
Despite playing away from home, Esperance coach Sebastien Desabre is eyeing a double over their fellows to boost their position on the standings. After defeats in their opening two games which cost Dutch trainer Ruud Krol his job, the ‘Blood and Gold’ only reignited their hopes with the 2-1 win last month, and Desabre has set sights on the maximum points to lift themselves from the bottom of Group B.
Esperance have been boosted by the return of Ghana right back, Harrison Afful after the World Cup whilst Ivorian new recruit Fousseny Coulibaly, provides option in midfield.
“Afful (Harrison) is a versatile player who has proven that he can compete at the highest level. I have not decided about his role in Saturday’s game. We need the points to stay in the race and we will go to Sfax with an aim to win,” Desabre told a press conference ahead of the encounter scheduled for the Taieb Mhiri Stadium.
In the other Group B match, Ahly Benghazi of Libya will engage ES Setif of Algeria on Friday at the Stade Chedli Zouiten in the Tunisian capital, Tunis. Setif leads the pack with five points; Sfaxien and Ahly Benghazi follow in that order with four points apiece whilst Esperance occupy the bottom with three points.
In Group A, TP Mazembe will be hoping to make a training camp in Tunisia count as they face Egyptian giants, Zamalek on Sunday in Alexandria. Head Coach of the DR Congo champions, Patrice Carteron is upbeat his charges are ready for the second meeting against the five-time winners, who they beat 1-0 in Lubumbashi last June, despite a 3-2 loss to Tunisian side, AS Marsa in their final test game in the North African country.
“This defeat must have a positive impact on the match against Zamalek. The defeat will have an impact, necessarily so, but it must be positive. We will build on this and return strong for the matches ahead,” Carteron told the club’s website.
Zamalek on otherhand are riding high after their triumph in the Egyptian Cup (beat Smouha 1-0 on Sunday) but head coach Hossam ‘Mido’ Ahmed is under increasing pressure in the wake of the White Knights unfamiliar outing in the premier continental club championship.
Perched at the bottom of the standings with three points, Mido’s continued stay at the helm hinges largely on the outcome of the Mazembe game and he will be relying on new faces such as Mohamed Koffi (Burkina Faso) amongst others to propel them to victory.
Elsewhere at the Tata Raphael Stadium in Kinshasa, AS Vita Club will lock horns with visiting Al Hilal of Sudan in the other Group A match, also on Sunday.
25/07/2014 Ahly Benghazi (Libya) vs ES Setif (Algeria)
26/07/2014 CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) vs Esperance (Tunisia)
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Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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