Referee punched and kicked as Moroccan club reach CAF Cup semi-finals

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Tunisian referee Sadeq al Salmi was punched and kicked after Moroccan club Renaissance Berkane reached the semi-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup at the weekend with a 1-0 victory over the Egyptian visitors to Al Masry.

Youssef el Fahli converted a seventh-minute penalty for the only goal of the quarter-final second leg and Berkane won the tie on away goals after a 2-2 draw.

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Berkane will face former Confederation Cup winners TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 8 and 15 for a place in the final.

Masry’s technical staff have consistently complained about Al Salmi’s decisions at the municipal stadium in Berkane, the hub of Morocco’s citrus region in the northeast of the kingdom.

At the final whistle, the match official showed Egyptian players Farid Shawky and Mohamed Abdel Latif red cards.

Almost immediately, a member of Masry’s technical staff punched the referee in the face and kicked him before security staff intervened.

A moody match was marred by constant long injury stoppages, angering Masry, who believed some were designed to waste time.

The first leg, won 2-1 by Masry in Alexandria last weekend, was also heated with two local players, Amr Moussa and Elyes Jlassi, sent off.

Berkane, who won the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League in 2020 after finishing runners-up the season before, had threatened to overtake Masry early on.

Besides El Fahli’s goal, a Charki el Bahri header bounced off the crossbar as Berkane exploited an aerial weakness deep in Masry’s defence.

The trend continued in the second half, with Masry rarely threatening to equalize and regain the lead on aggregate.

Known as the ‘Orange Boys’, Berkane is guided by Florent Ibenge, the highly experienced former coach of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Elsewhere, Al Ahly beat Tripoli neighbors Al Ittihad 1-0 in a Libyan derby in Benghazi to book a semi-final date with 2015 Confederation Cup runners-up Orlando Pirates of South Africa.

The only goal in both matches came 19 minutes into the first half on an artificial pitch in the eastern coastal city.

After Ittihad goalkeeper Muad Allafi fended off a pass in the penalty area, Ayoub Ayed hammered the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Ittihad had chances to equalize after half-time, notably when unmarked Omar al Khouja failed to connect with a cross from Abdulati Abbasi.

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