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CAF Confederation Cup: Defending champions USM Alger earn a favorable first leg in Morocco

Defending CAF Confederation Cup champions USM Alger were handed a difficult duel in the final stage of qualifying but the Algerian club got off to a positive start on Saturday with a 1-1 first leg result at Morocco’s FUS Rabat. USMA captain Zineddine Belaid opened the scoring with a header just before halftime to give his club a valuable goal away from home before left back James Ajako leveled for FUS in the final ten minutes. The teams will meet again on October 1 in Oran for the second leg to determine who advances to the group stage.

As expected in a match between clubs from Algeria and Morocco, the atmosphere was heated and the stakes were high. Libyan referee Muhammad Elmabrouk was the busiest person on the pitch and both teams were well organized on the defense. However the visitors from Algeria made an important breakthrough in the 45th minute when a Brahim Benzaza corner kick found Belaid whose header was perfectly placed beyond the reach of diving FUS goalkeeper Aymane Majid.

The second half was similar to the first as USMA attempted to disrupt the efforts of the hosts to find a leveler. It appeared that USMA were going to escape Rabat with a narrow victory but a moment of weakness from the defense allowed FUS to equalize. Substitute Amine Azri did well to chase down a pass from midfield and floated a cross over USMA keeper Oussama Benbout who was poorly positioned. The ball bounced along the goal line before former Akwa United fullback Ajako swept in to finish into the unguarded net for the Nigerian’s first goal with FUS.

Highlights from the first leg are below.

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