BY FORTUNE MBELE
Étoile Sportive du Sahel…………….……. (1) 3
FC Platinum’s defensive frailties were laid bare by continental giants Étoile du Sahel, who registered their second consecutive victory in the 2019/20 CAF Champions League campaign with a routine win over the local champions at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
A goal in each half by Karim Aribi and a second half injury time goal by substitute Hazem Haj Hassen condemned the Zimbabwean champions to their second loss in as many games.
All the three goals scored by the visitors can best be described as soft goals and Pure Platinum Play coach Lizwe Sweswe admitted in his post-match interview that his charges had defended poorly.
“We lost but we did not play badly and were undone by mistakes at the back when our defenders lost concentration and failed to organise well. We are not throwing in the towel though and will continue to fight,” Sweswe said.
Étoile Sportive du Sahel coach Juan Garrido seemingly agreed with his Zimbabwean counterpart and said the game was not a stroll in the park despite the flattering scoreline.
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult game but there were important moments in the game that we utilised and scored our goals. One such moment was the goal that we scored at the beginning of the second half,” Garrido said.
Experienced continental campaigners Étoile Sportive du Sahel were the first to settle in yesterday’s encounter and comfortably took the game to the hosts, who defended deep until they conceded on 23 minutes.
The opener came after an ill-conceived off side trap saw FC Platinum left back William Stima‘s weak clearances falling for Maher Hannachi, who sent in a cross that was headed home by the unmarked Aribi for his first strike of the day.
The gangly striker returned to haunt the FC Platinum defence with an easy tap in from close range in the first minute of the second half when the hosts failed to deal with a cross from the right channel by Étoile Sportive du Sahel wing back Wajdi Kechrida.
The final nail on the FC Platinum coffin was struck by second half substitute Haj Hassen in the first minute of the referee’s optional time after the Zvishavane side’s defense again failed to deal with a quick break on the flank by the visitors.
Hannachi once again provided the assist for Étoile Sportive du Sahel’s third and final goal of the day.
Étoile Sportive du Sahel assumed pole position on the Group B log with six points to their credit having beaten Al Ahly 1 – 0 in their first game.
FC Platinum remain the only side in Group B that is yet to pick up a point after Egyptian giants Al Ahly beat Sudanese outfit Al Hilal 2 – 1 on Friday.
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, R Muduviwa, W Stima (L Nhamo 81), G Bello, L Mhlanga, K Madzongwe, D Chafa, T Chikore, G Nsiala, N Tigere (P Chikwende 58), R Chinyengetere.
Étoile Sportive du Sahel: A Krir, A Jemal, W Kechrida, M Konate, Z Boughattas, S Boukhanchouche (M Beaoui 76), M Methnani, A Ben Ouannes (H Hassen 38), M Hannachi, K Aribi (D Gonzalez Mendoza 83), Y Chikhaoui.