Étoile Sportive du Sahel
One of this season’s most anticipated additions to Étoile’s squad is without a doubt our new number 10 : Danilo Petrolli Bueno. 26 years old, offensive midfielder, and former brazilian Série B starlet before leaving Bragança Paulista’s CA Bragantino for $ 850k. We Tunisians often complain that our league lacks players who really put the beautiful in “beautiful game”, but Danilo could be a serious challenger to Espérance’s Oussama Darragi for the title of most enjoyable player to watch. So far he only played 20 minutes against CS Hammam-Lif in the new season’s second fixture, and we didn’t really see a lot coming from him, but I’m confident we’ll be treated to some proper brazilian magic as the season goes on and he establishes himself as Étoile’s new playmaker. A selection of Danilo’s best moments with CA Bragantino is after the jump.
A solid performance in the first half, a brilliant goal by Ahmed Akaichi to end his scoring draught, and lots of promises by the new guys. Or how the “Étoile new look”, as the TV commentators dubbed it, begins to impress.
I was expecting a tough game, since CS Hammam-Lif are maybe the toughest mid-table team in the Tunisian LP1, but we controlled it from the very beginning, despite 3 changes in comparison to the season kick-off against Espérance : Goalkeeper Bouderbala in for the recovering Mathlouthi, Ben Chagra for Jebnoun and Belakhal for the suspended Chedly.
The Good : 26 year old Brazilian midfielder Danilo Petrolli Bueno will be qualified to be in Étoile’s starting XI on August 1st, as we face the tricky suburban Tunis team of CS Hammam-Lif. I can’t say that I’m not excited about him making his first apparition in the Tunisian League. The man is reported to be a very skilled playmaker, and was elected best player of the Brazilian Serie B in 2008/2009 with Atlético Bragantino. In addition to that, he was a target for Reggina, Catania and Sao Paulo FC before signing at Étoile. I’m sure he’ll provide some much neede livelihood in our midfield and connect the strikers to the rest of the team. I hope he won’t be another South American disappointment (remember Mendoza ?)
The Bad : No Mathlouthi . Tunisia’s current first choice between the posts underwent surgery in France a few days ago, and will miss training for the next couple of weeks. Mohamed Bouderbala should be filling in for him. Also, Adel Chedli is suspended after his red card against Espérance, so we should see Mohamed Ali Nafkha in midfield.
The game will be played in Radès, which takes me back to that 2001 Cup final, first game to be played in the then brand new stadium, and to CSHL’s Anis Ben Chouikha’s stunning long distance shot that denied us the Cup yet another time. Would be nice if we could beat a Tunis based team in Rades for a change !
So. Nearly a year of disappointment and poor football made it more than difficult to write anything about my hometown club. Add to that the National Team’s failure to qualify to the World Cup, and you’ll get a disgusted tunisian football fan. But you can eventually put it all behind you and get on with your life.
The 2010-2011 season started yesterday in Tunisia with 5 games played in Rades, Bizerte, Gafsa, Hammam-Sousse and Zarzis, and two to be played on Sunday. It’s quite unusual for the tunisian season to start before the european championships, but with the month of Ramadan only a few weeks ahead, the league heads probably wanted to get a head start before the “mandatory” break, where professional football players prefer refraining from food and water during the day to actually doing their jobs. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Read the rest of this entry »
That would make a nice motivational poster, don’t you think ? Lotfi Rhim made a good point tonight when he dropped Emeka, Gelson, Nafkha and even Jemal, to let some youngsters have a go : the likes of Aymen Ayari, Wadii Hadj Frej and Slim Jedaied proved a lot of people wrong tonight during Étoile’s crushing 5-1 victory against neighbours ES Hammam-Sousse. They showed that when given a proper chance, they would not let the club or the angry supporters down. Granted, it was only Hammam-Sousse, and their goalkeeper Mohamed Zouabi made a fool of himelf on two occasions, but we still got to see an unusually entertaining game, and got to see what Ahmed Akaichi is capable of when the game flows the way it should. His four goals were mainly due to his tenacity, but also to the decent build up in midfield. Cudos to Sadat Bukhari for that direct free kick and his excellent work with Akaichi.
The tunisian league will now go on pause for two reasons : the muslim holy month of Ramadan has begun today, and it will make it harder for practicing players to play before sundown (not every LP1 stadium has floodlights), but more importantly to let the national team prepare for the oh so important WC qualifiying game against Nigeria on september 5th. Make sure to check out the Tunisia WCB for regular updates. But we will have to carry on with our african campaign, and hope to see more of today’s display. Who knows, it could probably pay off and guarantee us a spot in the semis. For now I’ll just stay ecstatic about today’s win.
Highlights and photos will be up as soon as they’re available.
I’m really starting to reconsider my cocky comments about how easy it would be to win this Champions League. Yesterday we seriously compromised our chances of even reaching the semi finals by losing in the worst fashion against Heartland FC from Owerri, Nigeria, another Champions League newcomer. It seems now that the form regain of the past few weeks was but a mere illusion, and that we’re now rediscovering the true face of this year’s Etoile : unable to score, naive in the back, inconsistent, and to sum it up, painful to watch. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been waiting for good stuff to happen before my first post, and now that we have finally got a win in our third game of the season, Champions League campaign included, I can finally begin to make my mind about the team so far. Read the rest of this entry »
Today the gentlemen in Cairo proceeded to both african inter-club competition draws : the CAF Confederation Cup – with fellow tunisians and title holders Club Sfaxien – and the CAF Champions League, with only one North African team left in the race : Étoile du Sahel ! We are once again Tunisia’s only hope of getting this title and joining the likes of Manchester United and FC Barcelona in the Club World Cup.Here’s what Lady Fortune has blessed us with :
- Étoile du Sahel (TUN)
- TP Mazembé (RDC)
- Heartland (NIG)
- Monomotapa (ZIM)
Nice weekend, wasn’t it ?
1. Étoile makes it to the group stage of the CAF Champions League with not much effort
2. Real 2-6 Barcelona, you had to enjoy that even if you don’t care for the spanish Liga
3. Espérance 2-3 US Monastir in the Cup semi-final, and our rivals can forget about their ridiculous quadruple idea
Well, that was a nice thrashing. A hat trick by Bukhari, and goals by Abdennour, Gharbi, Opara and Berradhia, which you can enjoy here. As amazing this victory was, it’s completely useless, since the antepenultimate matchday of the Tunisian LP1 saw Espérance and Club Africain win against La Marsa and Stade Tunisien, thus completely removing us from the title race.
Gernot Rohr must look pretty stupid now. Changing to a more attacking approach for once got us 7 goals against the same team that held off Espérance to a 2-2 draw and beat Club Africain 3-1. Meriah was left out (much to my liking), making way for the more ambitious Mosrati. Slim Jedaied was on a good day, and I’m sure there’s more to expect from this youngster if he is given a proper chance.
The lesson we can take is that Étoile always has been an attacking team. Playing with 3 defensive midfielders never was our way of doing things. It’s become clear now that Gernot Rohr didn’t quite realize how much potential this squad has once you make a good use of the talent. But his odd choices and far too prudent approach will be the main regret of this season. I hope we can get rid of him after the return leg against Al Ahly of Tripoli, and put somebody with a strong personality and a better knowledge of the tunisian and african football scenes in charge.
Whereas the title is out of reach for Étoile, the second spot – which would take us to the Africain Champions League – is still up for grabs. It would require a victory in Tunis and a Club Africain defeat to the now almost certainly relegated Jendouba Sports. In other words, it’s even more difficult than winning the league was 2 weeks ago. But this is football, and you never know what could happen. One thing is certain : We’re not letting Espérance have it !