French coach Lemerre, 77, seeking African glory with Etoile
Etoile, the only team to win all five current and past African club competitions, host Zamalek of Egypt after losing 1-0 away in the semi-final first leg.
“Zamalek may be ahead on aggregate, but they have not qualified for the final. They will face a very different Etoile side this weekend from that which played in Egypt,” promised Lemerre.
Last month, the Frenchman led Etoile to glory in the Arab Club Champions Cup with victory over Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in the final worth $7.5 million (6.7 mn euros).
The Confederation Cup winners receive only $1.25 million, but that has not diminished the desire of Lemerre to win the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
He is the only coach to win the Euro and Africa Cup of Nations titles — leading France to victory in 2000 and Tunisia in 2004.
Here, AFP Sport previews the clash between Etoile and Zamalek and the other second leg with another Tunisian team, CS Sfaxien, defending a 2-0 lead over Renaissance Berkane in Morocco.
Berkane v Sfaxien
Record three-time Confederation Cup winners Sfaxien have the upper hand over much less experienced Berkane thanks to goals from Alaa Marzouki and Hamza Mathlouthi in Tunisia.
Marzouki nodded the 2007, 2008 and 2013 trophy-holders into the lead midway through the opening half and Mathlouthi converted an early second half penalty.
In a cagey clash, Sfaxien proved ultra clinical as they scored from two of three on-target goal attempts while Berkane were off target with all 10 efforts.
A lot more was expected of a Berkane attack that has scored 26 goals in the CAF campaign, a greater total than any of the other title contenders.
Togolese Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba was particularly well contained with Sfaxien aware of the threat he posed having scored six Confederation Cup goals.
Should Berkane score first they will be back in contention, but if they concede at home the tie will be as good as over.
Etoile v Zamalek
Bowl-shaped Stade Olympique in Sousse has not been a happy hunting ground for Zamalek, whose three CAF matches there have all ended in defeats.
The most recent meeting was in the 2015 Confederation Cup semi-finals and Etoile humiliated Zamalek 5-1 in the first leg en route to winning the competition a second time.
Such a wide winning margin is unlikely this Sunday, though, as Etoile have struggled for goals in Africa this season, scoring only 14 in 11 outings.
The Tunisians also lack a consistent scorer with no one managing more than two goals in the CAF campaign.
Only captain and veteran striker Yassine Chikhaoui has netted twice in a match for the most successful Tunisian club in Africa with nine titles.
But Zamalek coach and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross insists his team are up against it, saying: “We are going to have a battle on our hands to survive in Sousse.”
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