Berkane v Zamalek: Moroccans win CAF Confederations Cup final first leg

Goals from defenders Issoufou Dayo and Adil Tahif give Berkane victory but Seifeddine Jaziri's away goal could prove decisive in May 19 return match

Berkane players celebrate during their 2-1 victory over Zamalek in the first leg of the CAF Confederations Cup final held in Morocco. Photo: CAF
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Goals from defenders Issoufou Dayo and Adil Tahif gave Moroccan club Renaissance Berkane a 2-1 advantage over Egyptian visitors Zamalek in Sunday's CAF Confederation Cup final first leg.

A goal a minute into the second half by Seifeddine Jaziri gave Zamalek a precious away goal which could prove decisive when the two teams meet in Cairo this Sunday in the return match.

The result leaves the final delicately balanced ahead of the return match on May 19 in Cairo, where a 1-0 win for Zamalek would give them overall victory on away goals.

Berkane and Zamalek also met in the 2019 final, which the Egyptians won on penalties after both clubs triumphed at home.

The hosts applied pressure from the kick off in front of a capacity 10,000 crowd in the Stade Municipal and led after 13 minutes when captain Dayo converted a disputed penalty.

The Kenyan referee waved play on when Youssef el Fahli fell in the area after a tackle from Hossam Abdelmaguid, but changed his mind after reviewing the incident at the touchline monitor.

Berkane, seeking a record-equalling third title in the African equivalent of the Uefa Europa League, went further ahead on 32 minutes through Tahif.

He scored his third goal of the African campaign by rising above three opponents and nodding a Mohamed El Mourabit free kick into the corner of the net.

Swift Berkane counterattacks were troubling Zamalek, who were missing several first-team regulars, including veteran captain and midfielder Mahmoud 'Shikabala' Abdelrazek.

The Cairo club finally threatened to score two minutes before half time when a header from Tunisian Jaziri was superbly parried by goalkeeper Hamza Hamiani Akbi.

But the aerial power of Jaziri told on 46 minutes when he nodded an Ahmed 'Zizo' Sayed cross into the corner of the net.

The match went ahead in northeast Morocco after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by beaten semi-finalists USMA of Algeria to have it postponed was rejected.

Neither leg of the USMA-Berkane semi-final was played and Berkane were awarded 3-0 walkovers by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after a row over maps of Morocco on their shirts.

The shirts had a map of Morocco on them that included the Western Sahara.

Morocco administers about 80 per cent of the 266,000-square-kilometre desert region. The remainder of the sparsely-populated area is held by the Algeria-backed self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a breakaway state that is not recognised by the UN.

Rabat's sovereignty over the region is supported by several Arab states, African nations and the US.

Updated: May 13, 2024, 7:22 AM