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2020 CAF Confederation Cup Final Review: Pyramids FC (EGY) 0-1 RS Berkane (MAR)

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Formations

Pyramids FC

RS Berkane

Match Report and Highlights

The preview for this match predicted that RS Berkane were going to keep the match close and stay organized. Les Oranges announced their intention from the beginning by being assertive and aggressive. It took just under three minutes for the Moroccan side to set the tone. Pyramids FC playmaker Abdallah El Said received the ball in the middle of the pitch and quickly released a pass out wide. However, Berkane center-back Ismail Mokadem took a swipe and made extra sure to contact El Said:

     The outcome was a yellow card for Mokadem, and it was also the first of many group confrontations between the teams. Berkane’s highest priority was to come out with intensity and win the battle in the center of midfield by any means necessary. Pyramids FC were stunned and struggled to find their rhythm. An excellent opening 15 minutes saw Les Oranges take the lead. Omar Namsaoui provided an excellent free kick from the right wing that ricocheted around before Issoufou Dayo redirected it home. Considering the way Berkane won the match, a set-piece goal was fitting.  

     Berkane held Pyramids’ high-priced attack to only two shots in the first half, neither of which were clean looks. The urgency was increased from Pyramids in the second half, but direction and rhythm were still lacking. A theme of disruptive play and tough tackling from Berkane continued to limit the ability for Pyramids to create anything from the midfield. El-Said created one opportunity, Pyramids’ best chance, on a 63rd minute free kick but Mohamed Farouk redirected the service into the side netting.

     Berkane continued to keep Pyramids honest by being a threat to strike, finding a fine balance between maintaining their organization while still searching for opportunities. Tireless veteran forwards Hamdi Laachir and Mouhcine Iajour made runs all match and never gave up on plays. Laachir nearly clinched the final in the 73rd minute on a defensive error from Pyramids but lacked the finishing touch. Les Oranges saw the match out excellently by continuing to push the boundaries with their physical plays and experience, and Pyramids could never get their attack into the rhythm necessary to break down Berkane. 

Player of the Match: Issoufou Dayo

     The 29-year-old Burkinabé center-back was immense. This was a final where a defensive player was destined to be the standout, and Dayo obliged with a dominant performance. Pyramids’ Eric Traore played with Dayo recently on the Burkina Faso national team, but there was no mercy from his countryman as he shadowed Traore all of the first half. In the first clip below, Pyramids have numbers and a chance to break, but Dayo accomplished the difficult task of preventing Traore from breaking into space off the ball while still being a threat to engage the ball. Dayo was always there to use his great range to save Berkane whenever Pyramids had a rare opportunity to break. 

Verdict

     We see it so often in team sports: Experience can be a valuable factor in championship matches, and Berkane had plenty. Over half of the starting lineup featured in the crushing penalty kick defeat to Zamalek in last year’s Confederation Cup final over two legs. This time those players who endured last year’s loss left it all on the field. On the other side, Pyramids didn’t have a plan to counter Berkane’s fierce energy from kick-off. Manager Ante Cacic was outcoached by Berkane coach Tarik Sektioui, and Pyramids’ players fell victim to their favorites tag.  

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