CAF Champions League: Esperance coach on why future is bright for his young stars despite Al Ahly defeat

CAF Champions League: Esperance coach on why future is bright for his young stars despite Al Ahly defeat

Festus Chuma 08:15 - 26.05.2024

Esperance head coach Miguel Cardoso praises his team's effort and resilience despite their narrow defeat to Al Ahly in the final.

On Saturday night, Esperance's hopes of clinching their first CAF Champions League title since 2019 were dashed as they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Al Ahly in the final second leg at the Cairo International Stadium. 

An unfortunate own goal by Roger Aholo in the early minutes handed the Egyptian giants a record-extending 12th Champions League crown. 

The Blood and Gold had drawn 0-0 in the first leg in Tunisia, setting the stage for a tense showdown in Cairo.

Despite the loss, head coach Miguel Cardoso expressed immense pride in his players' valiant efforts.

 "I am certainly not happy about losing the title, but I am proud of what my team presented and of reaching the final," Cardoso told reporters. 

"We fought until the end and showed great character, even though conceding an early goal against a big team like Al Ahly is not easy."

Esperance's task became monumental when Aholo inadvertently turned the ball into his own net just four minutes into the match. 

Despite the setback, the Tunisian side displayed remarkable resilience, keeping Al Ahly at bay and creating several opportunities to equalize.

Cardoso acknowledged the challenge of facing the continent's most decorated club but found solace in the progress made by his team under his brief tenure. 

"We have a young team, and we succeeded in qualifying for the Club World Cup, and we must support this team during the coming period," the 47-year-old coach stated. 

"I have been with Esperance for only four months, and we succeeded in building many things that were missing. During the last period, we gave everything we had, but we were not lucky."

Despite the heartbreak, Cardoso remained optimistic about the future as he emphasized the importance of building on the progress made this season and striving to go one better in the next campaign. 

"We will take solace from the progress made under my tutelage as we aim to build a side capable of winning the title next season," he added.

As they look ahead, the foundation laid by Cardoso promises a brighter future and the hope of lifting the coveted Champions League trophy once more.

In the end, it was a night of mixed emotions for Esperance—a story of heartbreak but also of pride and determination as they look forward to new challenges and opportunities in the seasons to come.

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