Good morning Guys.
It’s the Tuesday before our all Important duel with Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia. To say it is our most important game of the season till date is putting it mildly, it represents the hurdle before we arrive the most sought after group stage of the CAF Champions League. For us, we have in the past couple of years always been a regular face in the Continent but just not staying long enough in the competition to trouble anybody.
This year though there is renewed zeal and optimism within the squad. Last Saturday during the 6-0 demolition of the flying birds a couple of the players who we spoke with had the same optimism that this year, they are in for something really special. But our opponents, who we will look up a bit today do possess the structure, experience and history some of us envy.
I lifted this from their Wikipedia page. “Étoile is one of the two clubs in the world, together with Italy’s Juventus, to have won all Continental club competitions organized by their respective competitions and the only one to have won all African Competitions”. There is this term, the ‘Tunisian Triangle’, it basically is, the top three clubs in the Tunisian Ligue 1. Clubs who have dominated Tunisian football over the years. One is Esperance, the other Club Africain and the third our dear friends Etoile. Impressive stuff. Very impressive.
They also do tag along, a couple of names that inspire respect. For those of us who watched the last CHAN, you’d remember Ahmed Akaichi. That guy that worried defences all through the competition that you almost expected him to single handedly hand them the trophy. Yea he plays for them and even though somehow he couldn’t fire them to the title, it still doesn’t eliminate the fact that he is a handful. There of course is Hamza Lahmar who is their top scorer this season with seven goals. The fact that their top scorer has just seven goals mean there are a lot goalscorers within the team who account for the 37 they have scored so far.
They also have veteran coach Faouzi Benzarti who is on a second spell with the club. He’s 66 and he’s one who is well versed in Continental football. His former spell with them lasted just three months but they recalled him in August of 2014 and he has remained at the helm. The irony however remains that Etoile du Sahel has not won the Tunisian Ligue 1 since the 2006/2007 season.
They did come closest last season where they lost the title to Club Africain by two points. It was a run that saw them lose just 4 times all season, scoring 47 and shipping in just 17. They also did have a point deducted from them after refusing to play against CS Hammam-Lif. The gist is that they refused to play the game as a protest of an incident that happened in their game against EGS Gafsa where it appears a referee refused them a legit goal.
But they did just enough to land a Continental ticket and here we are, their new friends for the next couple of weeks.
This season though, they look set to capture the title. They’ve played 20 games already, they are leading the pack with 17 wins, 2 draws and just one defeat. Don’t let that scare you though because the other two teams (Sokari’s CS Station in 2nd) in close pursuit have also won 17 games and are placed one point and one place from each other.
Well, basically all we have shared today on the blog is public information. We will probably knock a few other doors and learn one or two things more about them. But it’s nice that we are refreshed and reminded of just how much work is before us this week and thus we can prepare effectively for it.
Back tomorrow with more
Information sourced from Wikipedia.org and FIFA.com