Tunisian giants Esperance Sportive de Tunis have been crowned champions of the country’s Ligue 1, the 30th league title in their history. The feat was acheived following a 1-1 draw at home to CS Chebba on Sunday 30 August, which leaves them 9 points clear of second placed Club Sportif Sfaxien with three rounds remaining in this year’s coronavirus hit championship. Since returning from the enforced break caused by the virus, Esperance have struggled to find their best for and have now won just one of their last six matches and drawn five.
Despite clearly dominating proceedings, Esperance were stunned in the 59th minutes when a rapid counter attack was finished by Jilani Abdessalem in the 59 minute. However, Algerian defender Abdelkader Badrane equalized just six minutes later from a corner by compatriot Abderraouf Benguit.
A period of sustained pressure followed but try as the could, Moine Chaabani’s players could not win the three points, but they were able to celebrate their fourth title in a row at the end of the match. It still falls three short of the seven in a row they won between 1998 and 2004.
Over the past 20 years, the Blood and Gold have won 14 Tunisian championships, six Tunisian Cups, two Tunisian Super Cups, three African Champions Leagues and three African Super Cups.
Captain Khalil Chemmam has also become the most successful player in the history of Ligue 1 Pro, overtaking Tarak Thabet and Chokri El Ouaer (9 titles). The 33 year old left back was born in Tunis, and is in his second spell with Espérance, returning to the club in 2015 after a short stint in Portugal with Vitória de Guimarães. He also participated at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.
Elsewhere, second placed CS Sfaxien maintained their grip on second place with a hard fought 2-1 over bitter rivals Etoile du Sahel in Sfax. Sfax raced to a two nil first half lead thanks to goals from Nigerian midfielder Kingsley Sokari and Achraf Habassi before Salah Hrabi pulled one back early in the second half. The result keeps Sfaxien five points clear of third placed Monastir and on course for a place in next season’s CAF Champion’s League. It was also the perfect return for coach Faouzi Benzarti who returned to Sfaxien 23 years after his first stint.
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