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World Club Championship Monday, 20 December, 1999, 19:21 GMT
Raja Casablanca: Men who did it again
While Morocco's national team stand proudly at the top of African football's rankings, Raja Casablanca's second win in three years in the continent's Champions League was a surprise to many.

North African clubs have dominated this competition, with only sides from Ghana and South Africa twice breaking their monopoly since 1981.

Raja's key men
Argentine coach Oscar-Luis Fullone
Abdellatif Jrindou, captain and key midfielder
Bouchaib al-Moubarki and Mustapha Moustaoudia, score most of the goals
keeper Mustapha Chadili, goalkeeper
But in 1999, clubs from the Moroccans' great rivals Tunisia were favourites do a clean sweep and win the Champions League, Cup-Winners Cup and the CAF Cup - equivalent of Europe's Uefa Cup.

In the end the Tunisians won just one - with Raja's city rivals Wydad Casablanca losing the CAF trophy to Etoile du Sahel.

Raja restored Moroccan pride by beating Tunisia's Esperance on penalties in the Champions League final.

Both games were goalless draws, with the first leg in Casablanca containing very little drama either.

World Club Championship
Two weeks later in Tunis, there was no shortage of incident, with Raja captain and key midfielder Abdellatif Jrindou sent off in the 13th minute.

The Tunisian side missed a penalty in normal time, and Esperance goalkeeper and captain Chokri El Ouaer fluffed his own crucial spot kick attempt in the shoot-out.

Abdellatif Jrindou: Captain is midfield lynchpin
It handed Raja a third African title following their wins in 1997 and 1989, when the competition was held on a knockout basis.

Raja's defence of their 1997 title had been disappointing, with suspensions for two players, Mustapha Khalif and Noureddine Ziyati, for manhandling and spitting at a referee in Tanzania.

And throughout the 1999 campaign they lived on the edge, calving out narrow victories.

After only making the group stages in a penalty shoot-out, they scored just four times in their six group games while only conceding twice.

Chokri El Ouaer: Expensive penalty miss for Tunisians handed Raja qualification
One of those goals was in a 1-1 home draw with cup favourites Al-Ahly of Cairo.

But that result was enough for Raja to finish a point clear of the Egyptians thanks to a superb 1-0 win in hostile Cairo in September.

Two forward players, Bouchaib al-Moubarki and Mustapha Moustaoudia have contributed most of the sparse collection of goals.

And keeper Mustapha Chadili proved he was one of the stars all the way to that final penalty miss by opposite number El Ouaer.

Yet despite December's glory, all is not well in Casablanca, with Argentine coach Oscar-Luis Fullone not well enough to travel with the squad.

Fullone also took ASEC Abidjan of the Ivory Coast to success in the 1998 Champions League final.

Comments he made after December's final gave the impression he was worried about January's tournament.

Mustapha Kalif: Suspenstion disrupted 1998 campaign
He has been surprised by Raja's rapid progress back to the top, and said then he was unsure whether he would lead them to Brazil.

"There's too much pressure," he complained.

"Actually, I wasn't thinking about winning any trophy this year or working towards another medal.

"We only aimed to see how far we could get. Making it to the final was a bonus."

His loss is a blow, but with that defensive record, other sides may find Raja a stubborn obstacle.

See also:

20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
20 Dec 99 | World Club Championship
Links to more World Club Championship stories are at the foot of the page.


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