First the disappointing news: Saint George conceded a 4-0 away defeat at the hands of Esperance in their final CAF Champions’ League Group C match at Stade Olympique de Radès on Sunday.
Goals from Khalil Chemman, Bilel Mejri, Haythem Jouini and Ali Machani gave Esperance a comfortable 4-0 win.
The victory elevates Faouzi Benzarti's men to the top spot with 12 points from six matches and they will now meet Egyptian side Al Ahly in the quarterfinals between 8 and 10 September 2017.
Remember the national team’s crushing 5-0 away defeat by Ghana in the African Nations Cup first leg qualifiers a month earlier.
Just days before departure the national fans had the fear of possible demolition in both cases. It happened so.
Look also the chance St. George wasted in their CAF Champions’ League Group C matches. In their second game against Esperance they finished goalless missing three clear scoring opportunities at the Addis Ababa stadium.
In their fifth match when they faced Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa they conceded a 1-0 defeat after missing a spot kick just seconds from the first half whistle. Plus they wasted two clear scoring opportunities from the goal mouth on home ground.
Look also at the good chance they faced in this Group C matches. In their first away match against Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa they managed to share a point finishing a goalless tie. Few expected that they would be back with such marvellous result.
Then Sundowns dropped points when St. George won over AS Vita of DR Congo. That gave them the second place on five points.
As if this was not enough, Mamelodi Sundowns were held to a 1-1 draw by AS Vita in their final Group C match on Sunday. The clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium saw the Congolese claim the lead in the first half through Thabo Nthethe, but Vita levelled the game in the second thanks to a fine goal from Yazid Atouba.
The score sheet tells that if St. George had the opportunity to collect the full three points from the three home matches; they would have advanced into the quarterfinals to face Group D winners Wydad Casablanca as the runners-up of Group C.
The disappointment emanates from this simple but possible mathematical calculation.
But calculating results with ‘ifs’ is not productive. It is, in fact, counter-productive simply because ‘ifs’ are unlimited.
Now St. George faced an early exit from CAF Champions’ League contest group stage. Despite their early exit, they have also the chance to take part in the next year CAF Champions’ League contest because they are the champions of the season’s Ethiopian Premier League club competition.
Getting a place in the continental big meet with title win at home is a big achievement. It is helpful to gain experience in a bag of inexperience. The big question here is, do they really take lesson that will help them improve their future position in the continental competitions from this failure?
This needs proper answer. For now the game is over. The disappointment of the national football fans will remain for some time until a better result comes to overshadow these demolitions.