It appears a peculiar jinx that prevents clubs from winning the CAF Champions League three consecutive times remains as strong as ever as Tunisian side Esperance became the latest club to feel its effects this weekend.
The reigning champions who have won the trophy the past two years were defeated by Zamalek of Egypt 3-2 on aggregate in a quarter-final after losing the second leg 1-0 in Tunis Friday.
The defeat placed Esperance in a select club of jinxed teams that includes Al Ahly of Egypt and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo (twice each) and Enyimba of Nigeria as back-to-back title winners who fell in pursuit of a treble.
A series of suspensions from the first leg didn’t help Esperance’s cause against Zamalek who also defeated the Tunisians in the one-off CAF Super Cup match last month.
Coach Moine Chaabani and his deputy, Mejdi Traoui, both received four-match bans and were fined for aggressive behaviour, offensive language and threats after a 3-1 first-leg loss in Cairo.
Captain and centre-back Khalil Chemmam was banned for six matches ban and fined $40,000 for spitting at the Moroccan match officials and using offensive language.
A four-match suspension was handed to Midfielder Abdelraouf Benguit along with a $20,000 fine for using offensive language against the referees.
Esperance were also fined $10,000 because their supporters threw flares at the Cairo International Stadium.
In other quarterfinals fixtures played on Saturday, Egyptian giants Al Ahly kept up their quest for a record-extending ninth African Champions League crown as they joined Moroccan side Raja Casablanca in the semi-finals.
Ahly secured a 1-1 draw away to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the second leg of their quarter-final on Saturday to book their place with a 3-1 aggregate win.
Ahly will play Wydad Casablanca in the semifinals after the Moroccans went past Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel 2-1 on aggregate despite losing 1-0 in Rades.
Raja Casablanca held on against TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, progressing 2-1 overall despite losing 1-0 in Lubumbashi.
Raja will now face Zamalek in the last four after the Egyptian side became the first team to reach this season’s African Champions League semi-finals.
Failed CAF Champions League Treble Bids
Mazembe (lost 5-3 on aggregate to Ismailia of Egypt in final)
Enyimba (eliminated after finishing third in Group A)
Ahly (lost 3-1 on aggregate to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in final)
Mazembe (disqualified after round of 32 for fielding ineligible player)
Ahly (lost 4-2 on aggregate to Al Ahly Benghazi of Libya in round of 16)
Esperance (lost 3-2 on aggregate to Zamalek of Egypt in quarter-finals)