AC Leopards end 38-year wait with Confederation Cup win
AC Leopards of Congo-Brazzaville made history on Sunday with victory in the final of the African Confederation Cup.
They overcame Mali hopefuls Djoliba 4-3 on aggregate, to end Congo's 38-year wait for a continental club trophy.
The Congolese, having managed a 2-2 draw in Bamako last weekend, triumphed 2-1 in the second leg in front of a sell-out home crowd, and all three goals came in the first half.
Cesaire Gandze edged Leopards ahead in the tie with the opener on 23 minutes.
Salif Coulibaly, who netted in the first leg, hit an equaliser, before Rudy Guelord Bhebey-Ndey grabbed his fifth of the competition on the stroke of half-time.
CARA won the 1974 African Champions Cup, the predecessor of the Caf Champions League, with a win over Egypt's Al Mehalla.
Although founded in 1954, Leopards only qualified for their first continental club competition in 2010.
Confederation Cup Winners
- 2012 - AC Leopards (Congo-Brazzaville)
- 2011 - MAS (Morocco)
- 2010 - FUS Rabat (Morocco)
- 2009 - Stade Malien (Mali)
- 2008 - CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
- 2007 - CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
- 2006 - Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)
- 2005 - FAR Rabat (Morocco)
- 2004 - Hearts of Oak (Ghana)
Djoliba, on the other hand, are seasoned campaigners. They reached the semi-finals of the Champions Cup in 1967, as well as the last four of the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup in 1981 and 1982.
Leopards played in every round of this year's Confederation Cup and went into the second leg boasting an impressive home record of six wins, a draw, a loss and a 14-5 goal tally.
Djoliba dropped down from the Champions League, which they joined in the second round.
In both competitions they have won three and lost three on their travels, but one of those wins was against local rivals Stade Malien.
The first leg of the final was a thriller with the Congolese leading and trailing, before snatching a dramatic draw.
Leopards collect US$660,000 in prize money and will also face Champions League winners Al Ahly of Egypt in the Super Cup next year.