Esperance de Tunis have beaten Al Faisaly of Jordan 3-2 to win the Arab Championship after a titanic battle that went into extra time at Alexandria Stadium in Egypt. Disgraceful scenes marred the final as players and officials from the losing team manhandled Egyptian referee Ibrahim Nour El Din for allowing the winning goal to stand.
It was the 27th edition of the tournament that until last season went by the name of Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) Club Cup, and the second time Esperance has won the title.
Al Faisaly had beaten local favourites Al Ahly 2-1 in the semi-final (having also beaten them in the group stage), and were expected to go on and claim their first title. The Tunisian Champions had dispatched Fath Union Sport of Morocco with the same scoreline after extra time.
The final however will be remembered as much for the behavior of certain Al Faisaly players and officials as it will be for the drama on the pitch.
The match had sparked into life when Saad Bguir gave Esperance a two-goal lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, before goals by Akram Zuway in the 71st minute and Khalil Baniateyah with only three minutes left rescued the final for Al Faisaly.
The tense atmosphere would soon turn to ugly in extra time when Nour El Din allowed Chamseddine Daoudi’s goal to stand with suspicions that Franck Kom had been in an offside position when he provided the pass for the finish.
Al Faisaly’s players hounded the referee, but the goal was allowed to stand. The ugly scenes continued after the final whistle and it would be major surprise if the offending players and officials do not receive bans for their behaviour.