Doha, Qatar: Raja Casablanca were not having an ideal season.
Out of the CAF Confederations Cup in the group stage, they were also having a tough time in Moroccan league, lying fourth and trailing leaders Wydad Casablanca by 18 points although they have three matches in hand.
Coach Patrice Carteron had said on the eve of the CAF Super Cup final that a victory in Doha would help them redeem their season, even though he himself conceded that Esperance were by far the better team.
Esperance de Tunis were not just the better side, they were the best in Europe at the moment, according to Carteron, who had suffered at the hands of the Tunisians in the CAF Champions League final last season when he was in charge of Al Ahly.
Form and history both favoured Esperance.
But Raja forgot all about that once the match started at an almost full Al Gharafa Stadium and were the better team throughout as they deservedly eked out a 2-1 victory to take their second CAF Super Cup title, 19 years after winning their first one.
Esperance, unbeaten in 16 games, struggled to find their rhythm while Raja got off to a promising start.
They got their first chance when Mohamed Ali Yakoubi lost possession deep in his own half and a beautiful ball above the defence left Mehmoud Benhalib clear on goal, but the Moroccan winger fluffed his lines and hit his weak shot straight at Esperance keeper Rami Jeridi.
Jeridi was again called into action a few minutes later after another through pass made its way through the Tunisian defence, but luckily for them, Soufiane Rahimi failed to take advantage allowing the Esperance keeper to smother the ball from under his feet.
The Esperance goalkeeper was totally helpless in the 22nd minute, however, when Abdelilah Hafidi splendidly finished off an attack he initiated with a thumping right-footer from outside the box.
The goal gave Casablanca more confidence and Rahimi could have made it two had it not been for Jeridi’s crucial intervention.
On the other hand, Esperance continued to struggle to find any rhythm in the midfield but out of the blue a long ball from defence and a glancing header from Franck Kom outside Raja box gave Taha Yassine a clear look on goal but his shot was well saved by Moez Ben Cherifia.
Esperance was slowly finding their way back into the game and Fousseny Coulibaly’s left-footer after a driving run into the box was wide of the mark.
Esperance were on the ascendancy after the initial jitters and Anice Badri, their most prolific striker, tested Ben Cherifia right at the start of the second half with a left-footer from outside the box.
And they did not have to wait long for the equaliser as substitute Youcef Belaili scored a superb goal from outside the box, a first time right-footer that rifled into the top corner in the 57th.
History had favoured the CAF Champions League winners in the CAF Super Cup, with the team winning the premier competition emerging as the champions in 19 of the last 20 editions, but amazingly Casablanca took the lead again.
Esperance defence failed to clear the ball after a corner with the ball bouncing back and forth before captain Badr Benoun found the net with a beautiful back flick in the 64th.
Esperance were looking desperately for an equaliser but it was Raja who came close to scoring again on a couple of occasions.
CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and Qatar Football Association chief Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Thani presented the trophy to the winners.