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Five Reasons Why RS Berkane Will Be Crowned African Confederation Cup Champions

Tarik Sektoui and his band of merry Renaissance Berkane marauders stand on a cusp of African Confederation Cup history.

Tarik Sektoui and his band of merry Renaissance Berkane marauders stand on a cusp of African Confederation Cup history.

Should they win Sunday’s Confederation Cup final against Egyptian debutants Pyramids, the Orange Boys will register their first continental title since their foundation back in 1971.

Last season, they missed the trophy by a whisker, having reached the final only to fall to Egyptian powerhouse Zamalek, who lifted the trophy following a penalty shootout.

In this year’s semifinals, Berkane struggled to beat fellow Moroccan side Hassania Agadir, but there are a number of reasons why the Orange Boys can be confident of silencing Pyramids and lifting the trophy.

In this feature, Ducor Sports looks at five talking points that edge the tie in favour of Berkane despite their opponents’ fairytale in the competition.

King Zouheir Laaroubi

It is hard to accurately say how many games goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi has won for Berkane this season‚ but it is easily as many‚ if not more‚ than their strikers.

The Moroccan international has been in superb form, keeping five clean sheets in 15 of the team’s matches since the first round of Confederation Cup competition.

They say that goalkeepers peak at the start of their 30s and Laaroubi is right in that zone. It is hard to think of when he has been in better form and is arguably the most important name on the Berkane team sheet.

He has the potential to be match-winner against Pyramids who started their campaign at the preliminary round.

Sektoui is a wily tactician

Sektoui became the coach of his boyhood club Maghreb de Fes in 2016, where he made a glorious achievement, winning the Throne Cup in the same year despite playing in the second division then. He successfully led Wydad Fes and Maghreb Tetouan, saving both sides from relegation before he quickly attracted the attention of RS Berkane’s officials.

The former Moroccan international has a plan to get the better of Pyramids, knowing that his side has been largely dominant even away from home in the competition this season.

They are unbeaten in eight games, have scored 18 goals and conceded only five.

Sektoui also has a knack of winning tough cup finals having won various trophies as a player thus making a resounding name both in Europe and at home.

With Porto, Sektiuoui was a key player of the 2007–08 squad that won Portugal’s Premier League title with five games to spare.

With Morocco, he won the 1997 African Youth Championship and won a medal in the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana 2008.

Berkane really want this trophy

Berkane have been too cautious in past Cup matches, their fear of defeat overwhelming the desire to take risks and go for a win.

But in the fight for continental glory, the time for caution is gone and the Orange Boys are not only chasing for the trophy‚ but also seek to write a piece of history in the Moroccan and African football.

They will be playing at Price Moulay Abdellah Complex in Morocco, and as has been a norm down the years, the home side lifts Confederation Cup trophy.

Sektoui arrived and painstakingly began rebuilding the team to the point where Berkane finished runners-up in last season’s Confederation Cup.

Now Berkane want the trophy‚ and they have the player power and technical staff muscle to get it too.

Pyramids might be overconfident

In their first CAF appearance, Pyramids coach Ante Cacic has termed Berkane as a weak team that they will easily defeat basing on how they played in their semifinals against Hussein Agadir.

Berkane beat Agadir 2-1 in a clash that lacked rhythm in most of the two stanzas with the referee constantly blowing the whistle for fouls.

For Pyramids, they easily defeated Guinea’s Horoya AC but they might not be able to help themselves basking in the positive light as they should have scored more against a depleted opposition that only had three players on the bench.

Berkane might have that little bit of an edge in motivation needing to silence Pyramids, as it would be the first-ever triumph in Africa and would perhaps mean more to them.

Berkane are a well-oiled machine now

Berkane are superbly-drilled under Sketoui and his army of bowfins in the technical staff‚ and can seamlessly and tactically snap from one system to another during a game.

They have what their coach set out to achieve with Orange Boys when he arrived – an “iron defence‚ creative midfield and sharp attack”. Their structure is looking, perhaps, as one of the best in Morocco and in Africa right now‚ and it is backed up by player power.

With the Orange Boys’ hunger for a trophy thrown in‚ this is a Berkane combination that will take a superhuman effort for Pyramids to stop on Sunday.

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