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Raja Casablanca end 19-year wait for second African Super Cup

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Doha (AFP)

Raja Casablanca of Morocco deservedly won the African Super Cup on Friday, narrowly beating Tunisia's Esperance 2-1 to lift the trophy for the second time.

Goals from Abdelilah Hafidi, a superb first half strike from 20 yards, and a neat close-range finish from captain Badr Benoun in the 65th minute sealed victory for Raja.

Those goals came either side of a wonderful equaliser from Esperance's Mohamed Youcef who smashed home an unstoppable shot in the 57th minute to give the Tunisian side brief hope.

But they could not come back a second time and there were delirious scenes at the end as Raja's players celebrated their first Super Cup trophy in 19 years.

The Super Cup is an annual one-off match pitting the winner of the CAF Champions League and second-tier CAF Confederation Cup against each other.

The victory was some consolation Raja's French coach Patrice Carteron.

He was the manager of the Egyptian team, Al Ahly, who lost to Esperance in the Champions League final last November, which led to him being sacked.

But there was little chance of him losing again on Friday as they dominated for long stretches of the final.

Mahmoud Benhalib, and Soufiane Rahimi went close in the first half before Hafidi's fine finish in the 22nd minute.

Rahimi also spurned a chance just six minutes later to double Raja's advantage.

Esperance, described as the best team in Africa by Carteron before the match, took until 36 minutes to threaten Raja's goal, but should have equalised when Taha Yassine Khnissi spurned an easy chance when through on the goalkeeper.

They did draw level early in the second half though through Youcef and at that stage appeared the most likely to win.

But Raja quickly reasserted their dominance when Benoun flicked in a winner from close range following a corner.

Raja could have also had a penalty in the closing stages after an apparent handball was missed by the referee and Rahimi also had a goal ruled out for offside in the 75th minute.

Friday's match was played in 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar, the first time it has been played outside Africa.

It attracted a near capacity crowd of 18,378.

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