ASPIRE ACADEMY SUCCUMB TO ESPERANCE IN QUARTER FINAL OF AL KASS INT CUP
26 Jan 2018, General
Doha, 26 January 2018. Aspire Academy ‘s run in this year’s Al Kass International Cup came to an end in the quarter-finals after a 1-0 loss to Tunisia side, Esperance during a match played on Friday evening at Aspire Academy. A first half penalty strike from Zied Berrima awarded after Tunisian player, Mobtassar Triki went down under the challenge of Aspire’s Faisal Azadi thirty minutes into the game.
Aspire’s Naif Alhadhrami was in constant midfield battle with Wael Dhouibi, Esperance’s outsized midfield enforcer and it was from one free kick earned from that duel that Hadi Abasideh curled his effort just over the cross bar as Aspire tested the opponents. But it was Esperance who had been the better side in the first half but Aspire grew in confidence and play towards the end of the half and pretty much bossed the second. Urged on by a loud and partisan crowd Esperance dominated early play and came into this quarter final match, their third, boasting a defence that was still to concede a goal in the tournament and showed why that was so with some robust style of football. The solid defence served the Tunisians well in particular in the second half when Aspire took the game to their opponents despite the massive support from the stands Esperance was enjoying.
Aspire came close to becoming the first team to breach Esperance’s goal in this tournament and it was Mekki Tombari who went closest with an angled shot that just sailed past the post. On 50 minutes, Aspire almost equalized when midfielder Alhadhrami connected with a corner from the left, his powerful header deflected off a Tunisian defender but was looping in goal until Esperance goalkeeper Fares Jebali acrobatically tipped it over for a corner.
Aspire had the momentum and kept knocking on the door and they went painfully close again when Tombari got free down the left flank and crossed for Ahmed Alganehi, but his finishing touch was just short of the required accuracy required. Aspire continued to enjoy the better of the second half exchanges of the two teams but, for all their progressive approach play, found themselves frustrated at every turn. As the clock ticked down, they won a free kick wide on the left. Khalid Bin Sabaa swung in an accurate cross that centre back Abdulla Al-Ali was first to, but he could not direct his header on target.
Esperance held out for a narrow win and kept a clean sheet for the third match in 2018 Al Kass International Cup. Beaten last year by Aspire Academy at the same stage last year, the Tunisian head into the semi-finals where they face either PSG or Aspire Football Dreams feeling a measure of revenge. Aspire Academy faces the loser of the PSG versus Aspire Football dreams match on Sunday 28 January to decide positions 5-8.