Morocco’s RS Berkane beat Egyptians Pyramids 1-0 in the first one-legged Confederation Cup final to win their first African title on Sunday.
A scrappy goal from Issoufou Dayo settled a tight contest in Rabat after just fifteen minutes as the Burkinabe defender turned home from close range after Pyramids failed to clear a free-kick.
Berkane will now contest the 2020-21 African Super Cup as a team that has never won the Moroccan league title celebrates its greatest success.
A fractious contest could have been decided after 71 minutes but Haamdi Lachir blazed over when well-placed for Berkane, who had an extra day to prepare after winning their semi-final on Monday.
The miss came minutes after Mohamed Farouk and then substitute John Antwi came closest for big-spending Pyramids on a frustrating night in the deserted Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.
Reduced to ten men in the dying moments after Bark El Helali was dismissed, Berkane avenged their loss to another Egyptian side, Zamalek, in last year’s final which they lost on penalties.
The club from north-eastern Morocco also gave their nation a much-needed boost after Egyptian duo Al Ahly and Zamalek gained the upper hand against both Wydad and Raja Casablanca in recent Champions League semi-finals.
Berkane started their campaign with defeat to Ghana’s Ashanti Gold but lost only once again, in the group stages, as a team that finished third in the recently-concluded Moroccan league proved its mettle.
Founded in 1938, Berkane have now won the only two trophies in their history in the last two years – their joyous scenes of celebrations meaning they had added the Confederation Cup to their 2018 Moroccan cup success.
Pyramids, meanwhile, will rue what might have been on a night when they worked hard to create chances, only to fail to test Berkane goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi as their two clearest efforts both missed the target.
Founded just 12 years ago, Pyramids – known as Al Assiouty until 2018 – have been revolutionised by the wealth of two club owners who have invested tens of millions into the club.
Saudi Arabia’s Turki Al Sheikh took charge in 2017 before selling two years later to Emirati businessman Salem El Shamsi, who secured Ramadan Sobhi, 23, from England’s Huddersfield Town last month.
Both the semi-finals and the final of this season’s Confederation Cup, Africa’s Europa League equivalent, were played in Morocco as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In contrast to the semi-finals, which had no second legs, the final had always been earmarked for a historic one-legged affair, albeit in the expectation that fans could savour Berkane’s moment of glory.