07/17/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/17/2018 15:25
Visiting Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel came to Swaziland to play for a win and did just that with three goals past hosts Mbabane Swallows to open a three point lead at the top of Group D in Manzini on Tuesday afternoon.
Swallows struggled and allowed the visitors to press high on them literally dictating pace but again the major difference in this one was the home side atrocious dealing with set pieces two of which easily gave away the first two goals - both sublime free headers.
It was on the 14th minute that the first crack emerged when an unattended Karim Aouadhi ghosted in with a header from the blind side off a free-kick and there was little an outstretched Sandanezwe Mathabela could do to stop it.
Then it had to be Maher Hannachi to stab home another header off another set piece after just 32 minutes. At this juncture, it was almost safe to give the visitors to give the match from the neutral point and it was only a hidden pocket of hope that lingered on in the minds of the multitudes on the terraces.
But on the field of play, their team showed less that an average in fighting spirit with their most reliable players on a good day failing to penetrate deep into the visitors half let alone mount a reasonable threat to steal away the match.
Home advantage was no advantage for Swallows as substitute Amine Chermiti scrambled in the third in the 71st minute.
The visitors had all but snatched as it was now reduced to a matter of minimizing further damage and for the second time in successive years the host suffered a loss to a Tunisian side. It was CS Sfaxien in last year's Total CAF Confederations Cup and now Etoile.
Etoile coach Chiheb Ellili paid tribute to his players.
'We came to play to win and we knew our opponents were going to be dangerous if we allowed them to play their type of football. So we had to press them high and mount sporadic attacks and it paid off for us,' Ellili said.
His Swallows counterpart Thabo Vilakati lamented the length break.
'I would like to congratulate our opponents they played well. To be honest we did not come to the party maybe the off season affected us dearly but such is football, you win some and lose some. All is not lost for us,' said Vilakati.
The two teams meet in Tunisia in a fortnight and Swallows must thank the goalless draw between Zesco and Primero de Agosto in Zambia for keeping them in second position.
17.07.2018 19H00 Tunis Esperance (Tunisia) vs KCCA (Uganda)
17.07.2018 19H00 Alexandria Ahly (Egypt) vs Rollers (Botswana)
17.07.2018 19H00 Setif ES Setif (Algeria) vs Difaa Jadidi (Morocco)
17.07.2018 13H00 Lubumbashi TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 1-0 MC Alger (Algeria)
17.07.2018 13H00 Lome AS Togo (Togo) 1-0 Sundowns (South Africa)
17.07.2018 16H00 Conakry Horoya (Guinea) 1-1 Wydad (Morocco)
17.07.2018 13H00 Manzini Swallows (Swaziland) 0-3 Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)
17.07.2018 13H00 Ndola Zesco (Zambia) 0-0 Primeiro de Agosto (Angola)
*All times are in GMT