CAFCL 2019

Bguir : “I enjoy playing under pressure”

Saâd Bguir gave Esperance the lead with two magnificent strikes against CS Constantine. Photo | Espace Manager
Saâd Bguir gave Esperance the lead with two magnificent strikes against CS Constantine. Photo | Espace Manager


Holders Esperance Sportive de Tunis will host Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco in the 2nd leg of the Total CAF Champions League final at the weekend. The match on Friday will decide the winner for the 2018/19 season of the premier continental club championship. The first leg last Friday in Rabat ended one-all.

Much is expected from Esperance midfielder Saad Bguir, and his colleagues in their quest to join the league of clubs to have won back-to-back titles in the history of the competition. The 25-year old played an influential role in the Blood and Gold’s triumph last season masterminding two goals in the 3-0 comeback win over Egyptian giants Al Ahly at the same venue, Olympic Stadium in Rades. caught up with Bguir for a Q and A ahead of Friday’s duel. Below are excerpts; What has been driving force behind a successive final for Esperance?
Saad Bguir: Of course, not every team can play two finals in six months. It has not been an easy road. We had some difficult games away from home but we managed to pull it off. We have a good team with great qualities. We know each other and get along very well which has helped us get this far in the competition. We play for all; if one player is absent, others are prepared to fill the vacuum and deliver as expected.

You stole the show last November scoring the first two goals in the final. Whenever the stakes are high, you always shine, how do you do it?
I love games where the pressure is high. That atmosphere pushes me to fight harder than I normally would. Last year, we were 3-1 down from the first leg in Alexandria (in Egypt), and that was an incentive for me to play at 110 per cent of what I’ve got. I thrive on moments like that and being under pressure motivates me to play harder and better.

How do you feel playing against your former coach Faouzi Benzarti, now at the helm of Wydad?
I think it is a double edged sword but I’m inclined to think that it’s in our best interest. We are familiar with coach Benzarti's ways and his style of play. There is no denying that he is one of the best coaches in Africa at the moment. Almost everyone in the squad has worked with him at some point and we know his preferences on the pitch. Even when we see him screaming and shouting, we already know what it’s about. He knows us, but I’m sure we will be able to keep the element of surprise to our advantage.

Finally, what would it mean to you as a player and for Esperance to win back-to-back titles?
It will be an incredible feeling to win the CAF Champions League two years in a row. It would be an honour for me as a player and a great joy especially this year, which marks the club’s centenary of existence. In addition, it would be the ultimate gift to our fans who always had our backs and who, I’m certain, will fill the stadium Friday and make the night memorable.