Striker Haithem Jouini’s first half strike was enough to earn Esperance victory over Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) in Kampala on Saturday plus a place at the quarter-finals.
The result, a first home loss for the Ugandan side in a continental club championship since 2014, took Esperance’s point haul in Group A to 10 points and cemented their place at the last eight after Egyptian giants Al Ahly beat Township Rollers of Botswana in Gaborone by a similar scoreline few hours later.
Poor defending cost KCCA in the opening half as Jouini’s strike four minutes from the interval separated the two sides in the end. The homers were vulnerable as Esperance attacked from the outset and it was custodian Charles Lukwango who denied the visitors twice.
KCCA’s only chance was in the 45th minute when Allan Okello slotted the ball past goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifa but the crossbar came to the relief of the Tunisians.
In the second half, Esperance continued to press for the second goal as Anice Badri and Youcef Beliali missed chances that would have extended the scoreline.
The homers went a man down after goalkeeper Lukwango was red carded for unsporting behaviour on 88 minutes forcing head coach Mike Mutebi to withdraw Sadam Juma for goalkeeper substitute Tom Ikara.
As the clock ticked, youngster Okello saw his long range shot saved by Ben Cherifia, in what marked the homers final chance at drawing even.
Elsewhere in Gaborone, Malian Salif Coulibaly headed home the only goal on 81 minutes as Ahly recorded back-to-back wins over Rollers.
Mike Mutebi (KCCA head coach): “We faced a very experienced Esperance side. My boys tried hard but the visitors denied us the space to play our football and it was hard for my boys to adjust. But I’m happy we played entertaining football which I believe is worth the CAF Champions League.”
Khaled Ben Yehia (Esperance head coach): “KCCA FC is a good side and they gave us a hard time to play because their players are quick and young. We knew how to play them because we researched more on their style of play and dealt well with the threats they could cause. I’m happy with result. Now, we look up to the next game.”