JS Kabylie did not turn in the most convincing offensive performance at home on Sunday, but advanced to the CAF Confederation Cup semi-finals on the strength of their airtight defense and drew Tunisia’s CS Sfaxien 1-1 to win 2-1 on aggregate. Rida Bensayah scored his fifth goal of the competition from the penalty spot in the first half to create enough separation for the Algerian side to bunker down and hold off a late CSS charge.
The hosts, having secured a precious away goal in their 1-0 first leg victory in Tunisia, attempted to put the tie away in the first half. A 20th minute corner kick bounced around the Sfaxien penalty area following a poor clearance from goalkeeper Mohamed Gaaloul, but the resulting Kabylie shot went just over the bar. Set pieces provided the best openings for both teams in the opening 30 minutes but nobody could find the finishing touch.
On 37 minutes a lapse in judgment from keeper Gaaloul gave Kabylie the opening they needed. Jumping up to collect a ball in the air, Gaaloul came down and landed his studs into the back of JSS forward Zakaria Boulahia to give the referee more than enough reason to point to the penalty spot for violent conduct. Bensayah stepped up and chipped a Panenka-style spot kick down the middle as Gaaloul dove to his right side to give JSS the lead in the 39th minute.
After the halftime break Kabylie put numbers behind the ball and abandoned attacking ambition to try and hold on to their two-goal aggregate lead. Sfaxien’s increased attacking urgency created a few opportunities but JSK keeper Oussama Benbout and his defense held strong to make it as difficult as possible for the Tunisian team to find that momentum building first goal. Late on CSS finally got their goal when fullback Mohamed Ben Ali was taken down in the box for an 82nd minute penalty kick that Aymen Harzi dispatched into the Kabylie goal.
However, despite the potential for late drama created by the CSS goal, Kabylie’s defense was far too stubborn to surrender a second and the Algerian club was left celebrating by the final whistle. JSK advance to face Cameroon’s Cotonsport in the semi-finals as they continue the match to obtain their first continental trophy since winning the CAF Cup in 2002. Highlights of the match are below.