Esperance coach Tarek Thabet believes his side can still reach the African Football League final despite losing 1-0 to Wydad Casablanca in Sunday’s semi-final first leg. 

Hicham Bousfiane’s second half goal gave Wydad a narrow advantage to defend in this week’s return match in Tunisia. 

But Thabet feels Esperance showed enough quality to turn the tie around on home soil when they host the Moroccans on Wednesday night. 

“The players made a great and correct effort. We lost 1-0 but frankly we could have done more,” Thabet told the media after Snday night’s match. 

Despite defeat, Thabet took encouragement from aspects of Esperance’s performance at Stade Mohamed V. 

“In the first half we closed the doors to Wydad’s players and were able to score goals,” the coach added. 

“Wydad were better than us in the second period when they scored. But we tried to come back after they scored.” 

Thabet believes his side can summon the resilience required to bounce back in the cauldron of Stade Olympique de Rades this week. 

“Our players gave a strong performance. There is still the second leg in Tunisia and we can repeat the scenario against TP Mazembe,” he said, citing their quarter-final fightback. 

With a vital away goal advantage, Wydad remain favourites to advance to the final against the victor of Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly. 

But Thabet issued a rallying cry to Esperance fans to recreate the raucous atmosphere that he feels inspired Wydad’s support in Casablanca. 

“Inshallah, during the return match in Rades, we will find Esperance fans just as Wydad supporters were for the first leg,” he said. 

“With spirit and will we can qualify in the return match, now we just have to recover.” 

By pointing to positives and playing up their home support, Thabet is clearly plotting an Esperance ambush in the second leg. 

Despite the slender deficit, the Tunisian giants have the European pedigree to turn the tie on its head and shock Wydad when the stakes are highest (CAFONLINE).