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CAFCL: Plenty of opportunities but zero goals in quarterfinal first leg between Sétif and Espérance

Both teams had their fair share of opportunities but neither ES Sétif or Espérance could find the back of the net in their CAF Champions League first leg matchup in Algiers on Friday. Tunisian champions Espérance will be hopeful they can win the tie at home in the second leg when the teams meet again in Tunis next week while Sétif will be encouraged by another strong defensive performance that featured a Man of the Match effort from goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia.

The match was even throughout with underdogs Sétif looking to use the encouragement of their home crowd to find a lead, but it was the quality in the Espérance attack that created the most danger. Physical forward Kingsley Eduwo was particularly influential in the first half, assisting the first opportunity in the 10th minute when he set up Espérance midfielder Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane for a clear look from eight yards that was kept out by a sublime kick save from Khedairia.

Eduwo created more havoc soon before the half hour mark when the Nigerian received the ball outside the Sétif penalty area and burst past multiple defenders but with only Khedairia to beat, Eduwo put his shot straight at the veteran shot stopper. A few minutes later Sétif had their first good look when forward Riad Benayad met a cross at the near post but his header was slapped away by EST keeper Moez Ben Cherifia.

EST midfielder Ghailene Chaalali nearly broke the deadlock in the 37th minute with a perfectly struck free kick from 35 yards out but his swerving effort slammed off the crossbar before Raed Fadaa’s follow up attempt was blocked by Khedairia. The action calmed down for a lengthy stretch after and it took some time before opportunities arrived in the second half.

Ben Romdhane had a couple of good looks around the 70th minute mark, curling a couple of long range attempts that failed to beat Khedairia. Sétif had another look themselves in the 74th minute but EST center back Mohamed Amine Tougai came up with a timely block.

Second half stoppage time saw the match end on a thrilling note with both teams each having an excellent look. In the first minute of stoppage time Sétif should have snatched the lead when substitute Ibrahem Bodbous picked out Ahmed Kendouci at the far post with a precise cross, but with the EST goal begging the midfielder was thwarted by a last ditch challenge from center back Abdelkader Bedrane. Only a minute later the visitors had their look when substitute Hamdou Elhouni laid a pass off for Chaalali, whose low shot was tipped to the side by Khedairia before he did brilliantly to close down and block Mohamed Ali Ben Hamouda’s rebound attempt.

Highlights of the match are below.

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