Friday 29 November 2019, 06:58

Esperance Sportive de Tunis: 100 years of glory

  • Esperance celebrated their centenary in 2019

  • Tunisian giants won domestic league and CAF Champions League this year

  • looks at some of their proudest achievements ahead of Qatar 2019

Esperance Sportive de Tunis have been one of the most successful clubs in Tunisia and Africa since their foundation 100 years ago. The club, dubbed the Yellow and Red, have a long and impressive honours list, the most recent of which was the 2019 CAF Champions League title. That victory, at the expense of Wydad Casablanca, means the Tunisian giants will be representing their continent at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™ in less than two weeks’ time. takes a look back at some of Esperance's proudest achievements during their first 100 years.

1942 – 2019: Golden period with 29 domestic league titles

Having claimed the domestic crown in 2017 and 2018, Esperance won their third league title in a row last season, confirming their domination of the Tunisian and African scene. Esperance’s first league title dates back to 1942, a full 23 years after their foundation. The club’s most successful period has been the last 20 years, during which they have won 14 league titles, including seven in a row between 1998 and 2004.

1994: A first continental title

Although Esperance's domestic dominance started in the 1940s, they had to wait until the 90s to win their maiden African Cup of Champions Clubs (now the CAF Champions League) title. That triumph came at the expense of then title-holder and regional heavyweights Zamalek, who they held to a goal-less draw in Cairo and then defeated 3-1 at home. However, the club’s next three appearances in the continental final – in 1999 against Raja Casablanca, in 2000 against Ghana’s Hearts of Oak and in 2010 against TP Mazembe – would all end in defeat.

2011: Continental kings again after 17-year drought

Despite those failures, Esperance never gave up, bouncing straight back after the 2010 disappointment to grace the following year’s final. This time, however, they were not to be denied, prevailing against Wydad Casablanca thanks to goalless draw in the first leg and a solitary strike from Harrison Afull in the second.

ES Tunis line-up before the champions league 2011 final against Al Wydad Casablanca

The Esperance line-up for the 2011 Champions league’s final against Wydad

Club details:

  • Full Name: Esperance Sportive de Tunis

  • Founded: 15 January 1919

  • Colours: red and yellow

  • President: Hamdi Meddeb

  • Coach: Mouine Chaabani

  • All-time top Scorer: Tarek Dhiab

First appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup

Esperance's 2011 Champions League’s title earned them a maiden appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup, held in Japan in 2011. There they lost two matches, the first to Al Saad (2-1) and the second to Mexico's Monterrey (3-2), to finish the tournament in sixth place.

2018: Continental glory and a good omen for Tunisian football

Having won Africa’s most-coveted title in 2011, Esperance reached the decider again in 2012, this time losing to Al Ahly of Egypt. While the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw, the Cairo club managed to prevail in Tunisia (2-1) to deprive EST their second consecutive title. Six years later, the club returned to the podium in a year that saw Tunisia qualify to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Several Esperance players contributed to Tunisia’s successful campaign, such as Anice Badri and Taha Yassine Khenissi, who also helped their club to another African title that same year against Al Ahly. While their Egyptian opponents secured a commanding lead (3-1) in the first leg, the Tunis club won (3-0) at home to claim their third Champions League title in an encounter that saw Badri score a superb goal.

A photo of Esperance’s winning the 2018 Champions League

A return to FIFA Club World Cup in UAE

After their maiden appearance in 2011, Esperance returned to the FIFA Club World Cup at the 2018 edition in the UAE. Eager to make amends for their failure in Japan, they nonetheless lost the opening game (3-0) to the host country’s representatives, Al Ain, who went on to knock out River Plate on their way to the final. Esperance, however, won their second game on penalties (6-5) after a (1-1) draw, to end the tournament in fifth place.

Bandar Al-Ahbabi of Al Ain is challenged by Ghaylen Chaaleli of ES Tunis

Esperance’s Mouine Chaabani and Al Ain’s Bandar Al Ahbabi at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018

2019: Esperance retain title to seal place at Qatar 2019

Esperance continued their fine form in this year’s Champions League. Having won the tournament in 2018, they were determined to retain their crown when they met 2017 champions Wydad Casablanca in May’s decider. The first leg ended 1-1 before Youcef Belaili scored what would turn out to be the winner in the return fixture, securing the club back-to-back African titles for the first time in their history.

Qatar 2019: Lofty ambitions and avoiding past mistakes

Hoping it will be third time lucky, Esperance will shortly embark on their third FIFA Club World Cup campaign intent on making up for past failures and improving on their 2011 and 2018 finishes. They see no reason why they cannot progress to the second round for the first time when they face recently crowned AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps even go all the way to the final and follow in the footsteps of Al Ain, who managed that very feat only last year. With 2019 coming to a close, what better time for Esperance to rise to the occasion than in the centenary year of this great club.