Road to Qatar 2019
Esperance Sportive de Tunis went into the 2019 edition of the CAF Champions League as title-holders and team to beat – something they will also be doing in the next edition following their fourth continental crown. And while CAF's decision to award them the title came more than three months after their two-legged final victory (1-1, 1-0) against Wydad Casablanca due to a disputed incident in the return leg, the Sang et Or enjoyed a near flawless continental campaign. Unbeaten in the group stage with four wins and two draws, the Tunisians then saw off CS Constantine in the quarter-final thanks to a 6-3 aggregate win, and TP Mazembe in the semis courtesy of a Youcef Belaili strike (1-0, 0-0).
Mouine Chaabani was already an Esperance icon after a ten-year playing career that featured six league titles and three domestic cups. After spells in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Tunisian outfit Hammam-Lif, the former captain and defender made the move into coaching, being appointed caretaker manager of Esperance in October 2018. Within weeks he had steered the club to the continental title to secure the position on a full-time basis. This year, Chaabani became a veritable club legend when the Sang et Or retained their African crown.
What to expect
Tunisian league title holders for the last three seasons and winners of the last two editions of the CAF Champions League, Esperance can call on a first XI consisting almost entirely of internationals. Their attacking trident of Anice Badri, Taha Yassine Khenissi and Youcef Belaïli has struck fear into defenders right across the continent and will be hoping to do the same at the Club World Cup. Meanwhile, team captain Khalil Chemmam and veteran keeper Moez Ben Cherifia will be marshalling a defence intent on withstanding some of the best strikers in the world.
3 - Esperance will be taking part in their third Club World Cup this year. They bowed out at the quarter-final stage on their first two appearances, going on to lose the match for fifth place in 2011 but winning it last year.
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