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RS Berkane edge Zamalek in African Confederation Cup final, first leg

MOROCCO’S Renaissance Berkane beat Cairo giants Zamalek 2-1 in the African Confederation Cup final, first leg at the Municipal Stadium ahead of the return in Egypt a week from now.

The hosts had a dream start after being awarded a 13th minute penalty, converted by skipper Issoufou Dayo, and then grabbed a second goal in the 32nd when Adil Tahif squeezed in a header at the back post catching out goalkeeper Mohamed Awad.

But Zamalek, who won the Confederation Cup five years ago when they beat Berkane on penalties in the final, netted a potentially vital away goal two minutes into the second half as Seifeddine Jaziri powered home a header from Ahmed Zizo’s cross.

Berkane came close to restoring a two-goal lead when Youssef Mehri’s shot skimmed the bar in the 62nd minute.

The return leg in Cairo next Sunday will see Berkane, winners in 2020 and 2022, seeking a third success in the continent’s secondary club competition.

The Moroccan club qualified for the final after a disputed semi-final against holders USM Alger.

Neither leg of the tie was played during a diplomatic spat over Berkane displaying a map of Morocco on their shirts featuring the disputed annexed territory of Western Sahara that Algeria does not recognise.

Berkane had their kit confiscated by Algerian customs when they travelled for the first leg last month and they refused to play. They were awarded a 3-0 victory by the Confederation of African Football’s disciplinary committee.

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USM Alger then travelled to Morocco for the return leg but refused to leave their changing rooms at kick off time and were disqualified. They have taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but were unable to force a halt to Sunday’s final, first leg.

By The African Mirror