Algeria’s USM Alger clinched their first-ever Continental trophy, edging out Tanzania’s Young Africans (Yanga) on the away goal rule to win the 2022-23 TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup.
The Algerian side lost 1-0 at home to Yanga to take the aggregate score to 2-2, having won the first leg in Dar es Salaam 2-1 last weekend.
The defeat at home infront of a fully sold-out Stade du 5 Juillet in Algiers might have taken the sting off their victory, but nothing could down the euphoria of becoming the first Algerian side to win the Confederation Cup.
Yanga, playing their maiden Continental final, came agonizingly close to making history of their own after Djuma Shabani’s first-half penalty, but they couldn’t land a vital second goal to turn the tie in their favour and win the crown on enemy territory.
USM Alger skipper Zineddine Belaid had a second-half penalty saved, but his blushes were wiped with Alger keeping the score at 1-0 at the final whistle, a result that was good enough to secure them the title.
Coming into the match, Yanga had the tedious task of winning the game by a margin of more than two goals and they had a perfect start when they were awarded a penalty just seven minutes into the match after Saadi Radouani nudged Kennedy Musonda in the back.
From the penalty spot, Shabani stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way and score the opener.
It was the exact early goal that the Tanzanians needed to catalyze their charge for a win and they kept the pressure on Alger.
On the half-hour mark, Alger almost scored the leveller when dangerman Aimen Mahious rose to glance a cross from Khaled Bousseliou, but the effort bounced just wide off target.
On the other end, Fiston Mayele who had been tightly marked got an eye at goal when he controlled a lobbed ball from Musonda beautifully, but he couldn’t land his second touch on target.
In the second half, the hosts were faster off the blocks and they pressed Yanga high. They were handed a chance to draw level in the 59th minute when Tumisang Orebonye was brought down inside the area by Ibrahim Hamad.
However, Yanga keeper Djigui Diarra produced a brilliant double save, blocking the penalty from skipper Belaid before bouncing back to save the rebound from Abderrahmane Meziane.
The save breathed life back into Yanga’s chase and they kept their hunt for a second goal. In the 71st minute, they had another sniff at goal when Dickson Job attempted to rifle a shot from range, but it was deflected to take the sting off it as the keeper gathered easily.
Alger defended well, restricting Yanga from getting into their box. At the stroke of 90 minutes, Mayele who had been closely guarded by the Alger backline had a go at goal with a shot from distance, but it went over the bar.
With six minutes of added time, Yanga threw everything to try get the vital second goal, but USMA guarded their rear to ensure the title remained in the Algerian capital.