Terrorism in Tunisia has forced a kick-off time change and a limited crowd for the CAF Confederation Cup Final second-leg between Etoile du Sahel and South Africa’s Orlando Pirates at the Stade Olympique in Sousse later today.
Twelve presidential guards were killed by a suicide bomber in Tunis last week, triggering a daily eight-hour curfew in the capital and a nationwide state of emergency.
Etoile and the Pirates, who drew 1-1 in Soweto on Saturday last week, are to meet at the Stade Olympique in the Mediterranean resort city of Sousse, close to where 38 foreign tourists died in a beach massacre in June.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Tunis and Sousse attacks.
Originally scheduled for 5:30pm local time, the last match of the CAF club season has been brought forward to 3pm local time.
And the initial crowd limit of 20,000 in the 25,000-seat stadium has been halved to 10,000 on the orders of Tunisian authorities.
South African ambassador to Tunisia Harold Hoyana said Pirates officials had been informed of security arrangements and were satisfied.
“The Tunisian authorities have put in place stringent security measures to protect their citizens and foreign visitors,” Hoyana told South African reporters.
The Pirates are familiar with Tunisia, beating CS Sfaxien 1-0 in a Confederation Cup group game in Sfax, 135km south of Sousse, four months ago.
Having snatched a late equalizer in South Africa through center-back Ammar Jemal, deputizing as captain for injured goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi, Etoile are favored to claim a ninth CAF title.
They are the only club to lift all five CAF trophies, winning the Champions League and Confederation Cup once and the Super Cup, African Cup Winners Cup and CAF Cup twice.
What the Tunisian Red Devils have not achieved is a victory in two home and three away matches in Confederation Cup finals.
Etoile beat FAR Rabat of Morocco on away goals after two draws in 2006 and lost on away goals to Sfaxien two years later after two more draws.
They could achieve another victory-less final triumph this weekend as a 0-0 draw would give them the trophy on away goals and a 1-1 draw would present a chance to win via a penalty shoot-out.
Should Etoile succeed, it will be the fifth Tunisian success in 12 finals of the African equivalent of the Europa League, with Sfaxien having triumphed a record three times.
Both clubs remain confident they can end long waits for an African title with the last for Etoile coming in the 2008 Super Cup.
The winners pocket US$660,000 and secure a Super Cup date with Champions League title-holders TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Lubumbashi.
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