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HomeCAF Champions LeagueEsperance Coach Explains Tactical Masterclass Vs Sundowns

Esperance Coach Explains Tactical Masterclass Vs Sundowns

Esperance Sportive de Tunis head coach Miguel Cardoso has explained his tactical masterclass to knock Mamelodi Sundowns out of the CAF Champions League, saying they knew they were in for a “crusade” at Loftus.

The Tunisian giants booked their spot in the CAF Champions League final against Al Ahly after beating Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 on aggregate and 1-0 on the night.

Esperance have now kept 11 clean sheets in 12 CAF Champions League games this season, but Cardoso only took over the club in January, winning eight of his 10 games since.

After the match, he explained how he won the tactical battle against Rulani Mokwena, admitting they need luck (chance) on their side, but also worked hard for it.

“It was rather difficult to prepare this game, probably the most difficult game I ever played, because Sundowns is an unbelievable team,” he told journalists.

“To compete in the right way, we had to use a tactical approach that would allow us to close as much as possible the spaces, the individual quality, the tactical variance that we could see on the pitch.

“Yesterday, I had a meeting a 2 o’clock in the afternoon, we almost had no time to practice between the two games, with the sleep and we didn’t know if someone was watching our training, so we didn’t make any big tactical work.

“But we had a couple of meetings scheduled, and we had a meeting at 2 o’clock and I cancelled it. I was not ready to tell the players how we should start the game – I had to sit with some of them and discuss.

“And that’s how we started this game, tactical, together me and some of the players, we discussed it and then in the night after dinner, I took the afternoon to prepare that meeting, that was the moment I present to players how we should start the game, knowing that it will be a big crusade let’s say.

“And it was like that exactly. First of all Sundowns they changed a little bit concerning the first game – the approach was much wider, down the flanks rather than the middle like we saw in the first game.

“Clever, obviously trying to find solutions and in a way we were more prepared to close the inside space. Even when we saw the line-up, we had to prepare ourselves for something different.

“Because with the players we saw in the first XI, even the system could’ve been different, even three central defenders could be a system they use.

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“And during the game I had to enforce both flanks, making one thing I don’t like, I don’t like my wingers following their full-backs but we had to do it, I had to be realistic on the approach.

“That’s my job, to make my players be closer to having the chance of winning.

“And after the first half I changed players because they were tired, most of them were tired, it was important to enforce the middle, important enforce the flanks and to give some chance for us to also respect their defence.

“We had a big game, we had big respect for the opponent and I don’t want [to brag], we want made a good job but there are no winners without the right moments – and we had our team in the right moments.

“With some chance but chance demands effort and organisation.”

David Kappel
David Kappel
David Kappel has served as a renowned international editor and content manager for almost a decade. David specialises in ensuring content and social media posts are highly engaging for football fans and was previously the international editor at Soccer Laduma. He is currently the iDiski Times website editor and social strategist.