Striker Amr Marei scored in either half as Etoile du Sahel saw off Ahly Tripoli of Libya on Sunday in Sousse to reach the semifinals of the CAF Champions League for the first time since 2007.
Marei, who joined ‘Les Diables Rouges’ in the close season from Egyptian side, ENPPI, headed the 2007 winners into the lead on the quarter-hour mark before completing his brace two minutes after the break to ensure the Tunisians progressed 2-0 on aggregate.
Etoile will face record eight-time winners, Al Ahly of Egypt in the semis in a repeat of the 2007 final, which the Tunisians came out tops to achieve their only triumph in the premier continental club championship.
The final quarter-final match lived up to the billing with Etoile making clear their intent from the onset. Marei and striker partner, Amine Chermiti, back to his boyhood club after a nine-year sojourn that took him to Germany, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, France and Kuwait, gave the Ahly Tripoli backline so much to worry about.
Chermiti, whose eight goals fuelled Etoile’s 2007 glory did not disappoint in his first international outing since rejoining the Sousse-based outfit.
Marei, who started in place of suspended Brazilian forward Diogo Acosta, headed the host into the lead on 14 minutes from a Hamdi Naguez cross from a four-man move with Guinean Alkhaly Bangoura and Hamza Lahmar as the other actors.
Etoile remained in control but had to wait till the 47th minute to strengthen their lead when Marei again headed past Mohamed Nashnush this time from a Chermiti assist.
Ahly Tripoli never gave up and Mohamed Ghanudi missed a sitter on 68 minutes, firing wide with only Etoile goalie Aymen Mathlouthi at his mercy, an opportunity which could not reignited their chances in the game.
The homers held on to cruise to victory and confirm a date with old foes Ahly at the last four. Etoile host the first leg in Sousse next weekend.
The other semis clash will see USM Alger of Algeria facing Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco, with the first leg due for Algiers.
23.09.2017 Tunis Esperance (Tunisia) 1-2 Al Ahly (Egypt) (2-2)
23.09.2017 Algiers USM Alger (Algeria) 0-0 Ferroviario (Mozambique) (1-1)
23.09.2017 Rabat Wydad (Morocco) 1-0 (3-2pen) Sundowns (South Africa) (0-1)
24.09.2017 Sousse Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) 2-0 Ahly Tripoli (Libya) (0-0)